Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Montgomery in Bloom returns to Westfield Montgomery Mall (Photos)

The 2nd annual Montgomery in Bloom celebration is underway at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda. Enjoy free product giveaways, spring product tutorials and demos, and live entertainment in the display area in the Nordstrom wing through May 12. Participate in workshops ranging from gardening to building the perfect bird feeder. See the full schedule of events on the mall website. New this year is a Farmers Market, which will start May 5 from 9:00 AM-1:30 PM in the parking lot at the corner of Westlake Drive and Westlake Terrace.

Bannockburn residents support SHA River Rd. plan, but want speed cameras

It was a case of democracy in action last night at Walt Whitman High School. About 250 residents, almost entirely from the Bannockburn neighborhood, turned out to weigh in on the Maryland State Highway Administration's latest proposed fix for the River Road intersection where 3 people died in a horrific crash just over two years ago. It was the largest turnout yet since community leaders began holding meetings to discuss how to improve safety at both the vehicular intersection with Braeburn Parkway and the crosswalk at Pyle Road along River.
The crowd was not fully satisfied with SHA's two-component plan: make the temporary turn restrictions permanent with concrete curbs at Braeburn, and add a pedestrian-activated traffic signal to the crosswalk at Pyle Road. However, there was a strong sentiment that the pursuit of something better shouldn't prevent obtaining the benefits of the SHA project as soon as possible.
Ultimately, after a series of votes, attendees fully endorsed the SHA plan for the Pyle crosswalk signal. They voted down a straight endorsement of the SHA's Braeburn part of the project. Instead, by near-acclimation, the crowd voted for an "enhanced" version of that, which would still have the proposed concrete curbs, but also the designation of that stretch of River as a "school zone," which would permit the use of speed cameras there.
A full traffic signal at Braeburn has been sought by Bannockburn residents for decades, but that idea has lost favor in recent months, with the realization that such a signal might generate more cut-through traffic in Bannockburn. SHA is expected to begin construction of their project later this year.

Monday, April 23, 2018

The Block Asian food hall to open Pike & Rose location

Here's a story I've been working on for months, but I've finally gotten confirmation today from Federal Realty that Northern Virginia Asian food hall The Block will indeed be opening a Pike & Rose location. The 8500 SF location will be under Pinstripes, at 967 Rose Avenue.

Confirmed vendors so far include Taiwanese Snocream and Pokeworks, which specializes in Hawaiian poke bowls.

The Block is scheduled to open in 2019.

Demolition update: Westbard Self Storage site (Photos)

The auto repair garage behind McDonald's on River Road is just a pile of rubble now. At least one large satellite dish had to be relocated. Regarding the legitimate concerns that graves (burials that might have been placed outside the cemetery boundaries by accident, or by WSSC in the 1950s, when they moved the Willett Branch stream into the cemetery) from the adjacent Moses African Cemetery might be disturbed on this site, so far they are just demolishing and clearing the site. No digging or excavation had begun as of early this morning. Stay tuned.

Here's the end of the project site where
the potential is highest to encounter
burial sites that were accidentally placed
beyond the cemetery border over time

Spa opens at Westfield Montgomery Mall, Sports Nation on the way (Photos)

A new spa has opened at Westfield Montgomery Mall in Bethesda, called Boutique Spa by Infinite Beauty. Coming soon is Sports Nation. While there is a chain of that name selling pro team merchandise, what I see inside so far here are athletic shoes.

A sneak peek inside

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Fish Taco "coming soon" at Bethesda Row; Amazon Books stalled?

Fish Taco has installed a bump-out construction barrier across the front of the restaurant's future location at 7251 Woodmont Avenue. It features the local chain's logo. Meanwhile, many are starting to wonder how Amazon Books will be ready to open their Bethesda Row store by the promised summer date. There's no visible activity at their future space when I go past during business hours, and the windows remain fully covered. For a store where design is expected to be paramount, they certainly are cutting it close with the construction.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Volvo XC40 arrives in Bethesda (Photos)

Volvo's newest model has arrived in downtown Bethesda. Ourisman Volvo/VW on Arlington Road has the new XC40 compact SUV on display out in front of their dealership. The Swedish automaker is making the XC40 available by subscription, in addition to traditional sales.

Friday, April 20, 2018

Gilda's Bridal Collection opening in Bethesda

Gilda's Bridal Collection is opening at 4929 St. Elmo Avenue in downtown Bethesda. A shop of the same name is currently open in Dunn Loring, Virginia.

Demolition begins for Westbard Self Storage (Photos)

Demolition of the auto repair building on the future site of Westbard Self Storage has begun behind the McDonald's on River Road. The project has provoked some controversy, as the property includes a portion of land being donated to Montgomery County, which is part of the Moses African Cemetery. Cemetery advocates had urged the County to require an archaeological study of the plot before allowing construction and demolition to begin. The Planning Board declined to do so. Many times, historic African-American cemeteries such as this can have gravesites beyond their property lines, because those borders are not always physically delineated.