Sunday, September 25, 2016

Car vandalized in County parking garage, theft on Middleton Lane + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on September 22, according to crime data:

Vandalism. 7700 block Woodmont Avenue (car inside Montgomery County parking garage).

Theft. 4500 block Middleton Lane.

Disorderly conduct. 4800 block Cordell Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 4800 block Bethesda Avenue.

Vandalism. 4300 block East-West Highway (occurred at a "school").

Theft. 5300 block Western Avenue.

Theft. 7700 block Savannah Drive.

Theft. 11400 block Rockville Pike.

Taste of Bethesda 2016 this Saturday, October 1: Restaurants and menus

The 27th annual Taste of Bethesda will be this Saturday, October 1, from 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM, along Norfolk, St. Elmo, Cordell, Del Ray and Auburn Avenues in downtown Bethesda's Woodmont Triangle. Taste tickets are $5 for a bundle of four, and will be available on-site until 3:30 PM. Within walking distance will be the Rescue Day event, running simultaneously at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Rescue Squad on Battery Lane.

Taste of Bethesda's five stages of live music will include Margot MacDonald and Elikeh.

Welcome some of the many new restaurants who will be making their Taste of Bethesda debuts, including Duck Duck Goose, Gold Leaf Bakery, Gusto Italian Grill, Modern Market, Tapp'd Bethesda, Tropical Smoothie Cafe, Quincy's and Suma Restaurant+Bar. Get a famous DoubleTree cookie without having to stay at the hotel, from the Share Wine Lounge booth.

Taste of Bethesda is presented by Bethesda Urban Partnership, with sponsors including ArcLight Cinemas, Cheval Bethesda, Stonehall Bethesda, WMAL, Mix 107.3 FM, and Cadillac.

Here is a list of participating restaurants and their menus for the event, which suggest this will be the best one yet:

Participating Restaurants

4935 Bar and Kitchen
4935 sliders, tandoori chicken tacos, pork wings
American Tap Room Chicken wings, pulled pork sliders, crab mac and cheese
Benihana California roll, spicy tuna roll, salmon nigari sushi, hibachi chicken, fried rice, Ramune classic or strawberry
Bethesda Curry KitchenBasmati rice, butter chicken, paalak panner, samosa
BGR The Burger JointSliders, hot dogs, fries
Bistro LaZeezHummus, falafel, beef shawarma, chichen shawarma, baklava
Café DeluxeSliders, crab dip, mac and cheese
Chef Tony's SeafoodSeared scallops, tiramisu 
Duck Duck Goose Duck confit sliders, mini cauli bahn mi sandwiches
Fish TacoChips and salsa, elote, shrimp taco, barbacoa rice bowl
Flanagan's Harp & FiddleShepherd's pie, Irish spring rools, beef and Guiness mini pies, bread pudding, ice cream with Bailey's sauce, 
Fresh BaguetteRegular baguette, 4 seeds baguette, pave epeautre, plain croissant, chocolate croissant, suisse
Georgetown CupcakeSalted caramel and pumpkin spice, red velvet and lava fudge, vanilla birthday and peanut butter fudge cupcakes
Gold Leaf BakeryCakes, pastries
Gringos & MariachisAl pastor tacos, veggie tacos
Gusto Italian GrillLocal Farmers salad, pizzas, pastas
Häagen-DazsIce cream
Hanaro Restaurant and LoungeShrimp shumai, pork gyoza, spicy tuna roll, salmon roll, California roll, chicken yakitori, takoyaki, iced tea
Heckman's Delicatessen and Bar Corned beef sandwich, pastrami sandwich, turkey sandwich, cheesecake, Dr. Brown's sodas, bagel with nova and cream cheese
JaleoChicken and vegetable paella, gazpacho, Mexican Coke, Mexican Sprite
KadhaiSamosa, saag paneer, murg makhani, rice, mango lassi
Louisiana Kitchen & Bayou BarJambalaya, étouffée, gumbo
Mamma LuciaPizza
Modern MarketChipotle chicken sliders, blueberry mozz sliders, superfood salad, farmer salad, chicken skewer plate with sweet potato smash and seasonal vegetable
MoMo Chicken + GrillKorean friend chicken, cup bop - rice with Korean BBQ
Morton's, The SteakhouseFilet mignon sandwiches
Mussel Bar & GrilleWhite wine mussels, Belgian waffles
OlazzoMeatballs, penne rose, cannolis
Original Pancake HouseLemon crepe, Nutella crepe, strawberry crepe
Passage to IndiaChicken makhni with rice, vegetable korma with rice, samosa chaat with chick peas, mango lassi
Peet's Coffee & TeaHot coffee, iced coffee, iced tea
PenangChicken satay, curry chicken and potatoes, milk tea
Quartermaine Coffee RoastersDrip regular coffee, drip decaf coffee, water
Quincy'sChicken wings, nachos, lamb sliders
Rock Bottom Restaurant & BreweryChorizo pretzel bites, mac and cheese, smash & stack sliders
Ruth's Chris SteakhousePrime sliders
Shangri-LaButter chicken, vegetable momo, chicken momo, palak paneer, vegetable samosa, basmati rice
Share Wine Lounge & Small Plate BistroSticky ribs, DoubleTree cookies, fish tacos
SilverChicken Komex tacos, cremini mushroom Komex tacos, kale and local blue cheese salad, tuna tartare, pistachio mousse, chocolate brownie
Smoke BBQRibs, pork and chicken sliders, mac and cheese, buffalo chicken tacos, sweet potato chips, lemonade
Smoothie KingAngel food, carribean way, strawberry kiwi breeze smoothies
Spring Mill Bread Company Bread, cookies, brownies, pie, turnovers, muffins
Suma Restaurant + Bar Duck sliders, lamb stew
Tandoori NightsChicken tikka, samosa, butter chicken, mango lassi, cholay, lamb seek kabab
Tapp'd BethesdaChesapeake brat with onions and beer cheese sandwich, beer can barbecue chicken sandwich with slaw topping, grilled dry rub wings with sweet sriracha or house rub
Tommy Joe'sWings
Tout de Sweet Pastry ShopFrench macarons, opera cake, lemon and fruit tarts
Tropical Smoothie CaféSmoothies, wraps
Tyber BierhausSausage on bun, Czech goulash, pretzels with cheese 
Vino Volo Truffle popcorn, smoked salmon roll on crostini

Drop-off driveway removed at 2 Bethesda Metro Center, new sign installed (Photos)

A renovation project along the North Lane side of the Newlands Building, a.k.a. 2 Bethesda Metro Center, appears to be nearing completion. One major subtraction was something rapidly becoming a throwback novelty in downtown Bethesda: a drop-off driveway. A minor addition is a new sign sporting the name of the building, which is located at North Lane and Woodmont Avenue.
I happened to just be reading a discussion on Facebook regarding the Bethesda Downtown sector plan currently up for approval. Several participants were lamenting the lack of drop-off lanes or driveways at new residential buildings downtown. It was noted that such driveways were even included in some new projects, but ended up being deleted, such as at the Flats at 8300 site.
Here is a driveway that actually existed, which has now been removed. I know that minor landscaping was to be part of this renovation. Let's hope something nice is planned for this large, new area at one of the top buildings in downtown Bethesda. Otherwise, they've simply traded a useful driveway for a sea of concrete between the street and the building. Hardly an improvement, and likely to increase traffic issues around the property as visitors, and valets attempt drop-offs and deliveries in active traffic lanes instead.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Car stolen at Walter Reed, assault in East-West Hwy. apartment + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on September 21, according to crime data:

Assault. 4500 block East-West Highway, inside an "apartment/condo."

Burglary, vandalism, theft from vehicle. 7900 block Lynbrook Drive.

Stolen car. Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

Drug arrest. Connecticut Avenue at Manor Road.

Theft from vehicle. 7600 block Marbury Road.

Burglary. 9900 block Derbyshire Lane.

Theft. 10300 block Grosvenor Place.

Hit and run accident/property damage. 7900 block Tuckerman Lane.

Theft from vehicle. 6700 block Rockledge Drive.

Theft. 11300 block Rockville Pike.

Theft. 5700 block Bou Avenue (Pike District).

Woman accused of stealing wallet at Bethesda Row Cosi, using credit cards (Photos)

A diner at Cosi at Bethesda Row on August 18 hung her purse on the back of her chair while eating. When she left the restaurant, her purse was a bit lighter, but she didn't know it until she got a call from her bank. Her credit cards had just been used fraudulently at Westfield Montgomery Mall and Target to purchase $12000 worth of merchandise.
The alleged thief
purchasing some of
the $12,000 worth
of merchandise at
Westfield Montgomery
Mall in Bethesda
Checking her purse, she found that her wallet was missing. Using surveillance footage, Montgomery County Police detectives identified a suspect in the case. They have now released photos from that footage, and are asking for the public's help in determining her identity.
The alleged thief
exiting Target in
Anyone with information about this suspect or this crime is asked to call the 2nd District Investigative Section at 240-773-6710 or Crime Solvers of Montgomery County toll-free at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). Crime Solvers will pay a cash reward of up to $10,000 for information provided to them that leads to an arrest in this case. To be eligible for a reward, tipsters must call Crime Solvers. Callers may remain anonymous.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Weapon arrest at BCC High School, vandalism in parking garage + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on September 20, according to crime data:

Vandalism. 7600 block Old Georgetown Road (parking garage).

Drug arrest. Old Georgetown Road at Arlington Road.

Theft. 7800 block Old Georgetown Road.

Theft. 4800 block Battery Lane.

Weapon arrest. Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.

"Assault of spouse/partner." 5100 block Bradley Boulevard.

Trespassing at apartment/condo. 7700 block Maple Avenue.

Drug arrest. Connecticut Avenue at Jones Bridge Road.

Theft. 7200 block Chestnut Street (Martin's Additions).

Collision with property damage. 1 block Paseo Drive (Pike District).

Bethesda construction update: Hampden Row luxury condos (Photos)

More facade treatments are in place at Toll Brothers City Living's Hampden Row luxury condo project at Arlington Road and Hampden Lane in Bethesda. The ultra-luxury 55-unit building will feature a 24-hour attended lobby, resident lounge, a rooftop terrace and fitness center, garage parking and bike storage facilities. Units will boast Gaggenau, Thermador, and Bosch appliances, and Grohe and Kohler fixtures.

One more sign in Bethesda of Montgomery County's anti-business climate

No major corporation has relocated its headquarters to Montgomery County in nearly twenty years. Thanks to the County's moribund private sector economy, office property owners have had to scale back their expectations, and try to lure smaller tenants. Whole-floor suites built with corporate headquarters in mind get hacked up into smaller office units, as firms like Intelsat and Northrop consider MoCo, and then pick Virginia instead.

So, while they didn't break the County Council's humiliating two-decade streak of no Fortune 500-size firms moving here, Brandywine Realty Trust had to be delighted when The Donohoe Companies - a major regional player in real estate development and construction - leased two floors at its newly-renovated 7101 Wisconsin Avenue office building.

But it almost didn't happen.

"Had we known then what we do now," Donohoe President and COO Chris Bruch told the Montgomery County Council at a public hearing Tuesday, the company might have chosen another jurisdiction. Was it the typical reasons that companies who choose Virginia or the District have cited, like the lack of direct access to Dulles Airport? The severe traffic congestion? Montgomery County's notoriously business-unfriendly climate and record high taxes?

No. It was the sign ordinance.

The high visibility of the office building at 7101 Wisconsin Avenue, along with $600,000 in incentives and loans from MoCo and Maryland, helped seal the deal for Donohoe. As the largest tenant in the building, Donohoe expected to be able to install signage on its facades, which loom over a major commuter route.

Instead, Bruch recounted, the company was "quite surprised" to learn that their signage plan would not meet the outdated restrictions of Montgomery County's sign ordinance. While that "may not seem like a big deal," Bruch said, "It is." Large tenant signs are currently restricted to a facade where a customer entrance is located.

Jennifer Russel of the Greater Bethesda Chamber of Commerce testified that the current sign rules are "detrimental to the economic vitality of Chamber members." She said the importance of anchor office tenant signage was stressed recently by an official with the Maryland Department of Commerce. Major tenant name visibility is a barometer for visitors of "how thriving the economic center is" in an area like Bethesda, she said.

Brandywine Realty Trust's Deb Santano said that the zoning text amendment (that would allow Donohoe's signage) currently before the Council would help "foster a positive economic development climate in the County." With office property owners having to scale back expectations to smaller tenants, she said, the inability to allow additional tenant signage is "out of step with today's market."

It was telling that the only opposition testimony to the ZTA was from two members of the County's Sign Review Board; both stressed they were only speaking for themselves, not the board.

If you drive down Massachusetts Avenue into the District, you will eventually pass by the headquarters of one of Donohoe's competitors, Douglas Development. You can't miss it, because the building features gigantic, lit signage for the company visible from every direction. Montgomery County companies need the same advantage.

The sign ordinance. Who knew?

One more thing I hadn't even thought of to add to the list of reasons why, as of this writing, MoCo hasn't scored a single major corporate headquarters in two decades. And one more thing that needs to change.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Car stolen from Bethesda Metro Center garage, burglary in Chevy Chase Village + more - Crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on September 19, according to crime data:

Stolen car. Bethesda Metro Center (garage).

Vehicle burglary. 4300 block Montgomery Avenue.

Vehicle burglary. 4700 block Langdrum Lane.

Burglary. Unit block of Hesketh Street (Chevy Chase Village).

Theft from vehicle. 6000 block Maiden Lane.

Theft. 4400 block Willard Avenue.

Theft. 4600 block Sangamore Road.

Theft. 8700 block Fenway Drive.

MoCo Council embroiled in new scandal 46 days before voters decide on term limits

The Montgomery County Council's vote Tuesday to approve the hiring of attorneys Francoise Carrier and Douglas Bregman - to represent taxpayer interests in negotiations over a White Oak development - was an unforced political error. An astonishing breach of ethics, the 8-1 Council vote plunges the body into yet another scandal, even as a November 8 ballot question will ask voters if councilmembers should be limited to 3 terms.

Carrier and Bregman would represent the County in negotiations with developer Percontee, which is purchasing 115 acres of land from the County at White Oak, a deal already steeped in conflicts of interest for County Executive Ike Leggett.

Why is this a problem?

Herman, set the Wayback Machine for the late 1980s.

Leggett at that time began a close relationship with the developer that Carrier and Bregman will be negotiating with at White Oak. Contributors affiliated with the developer have donated thousands of dollars to Leggett's campaign accounts since that time. Negotiations between the developer and County Attorney Marc Hansen have been contentious and lengthy - in other words, Hansen appeared to actually be doing his job.

Now, mysteriously, Hansen is calling for outside legal counsel to take over the negotiations, citing a lack of resources in his office.

Hansen has 26 years of professional experience in the County Attorney's office. He serves at the pleasure of Leggett, who appointed him County Attorney in 2011, and of the Council, who unanimously approved his appointment. The sudden move to hire Carrier and Bregman creates - true or not - the public perception that Hansen is obeying a directive from Leggett and the Council to do so, or it might no longer be "their pleasure" for Hansen to continue in the position. That's just a fact.

Why is the selection of Carrier and Bregman a problem?

"I'm now on the
developers' side"

That Carrier was Chair of the Planning Board when the White Oak sector plan was passed is just the beginning of the conflicts of interest in this case. After leaving the Board in 2014, Carrier was appointed to the board of directors of a developer-backed non-profit, Communities for Transit. An instrumental figure on that board of directors? Jonathan Genn, Executive Vice-President at...Percontee. Yes, the White Oak developer Carrier will now "negotiate" with.
Look who teamed up
to deliver a presentation
at a development conference
this year
Earlier this year, Carrier and Genn teamed up at a Montgomery County conference to present a developer-friendly PowerPoint presentation on the so-unfair costs to developers (and the uninformed NIMBYs) that make "smart growth" urban development difficult in MoCo. "I'm now on the developers' side of the table," Carrier declared late in the presentation.

Carrier is also close to her now-partner in the Percontee negotiations, Douglas Bregman. Together, they helped stifle an objective, truly-independent investigation into the Farm Road scandal in 2013. As Chair of the Planning Board at that time, Carrier appointed Bregman to "investigate" Farm Road.

The Farm Road debacle began when African-American landowners were cheated out of their property rights in Sandy Spring. A road that served their properties mysteriously disappeared from documents and records, a move that benefited a developer building homes there, but preventing the black landowners from developing their properties.

How did this happen? There was enough evidence of foul play to spur the County Inspector General to call for an investigation of the Planning Department. Activists and Councilmember Marc Elrich were among those who called on Attorney General Doug Gansler to launch a state investigation (Elrich was the only councilmember to vote against hiring Carrier and Bregman Tuesday).

What could possibly go wrong?

It turned out that Gansler would decide whether an investigation was warranted based on the conclusions of Bregman's "investigation." Problem: Bregman had donated $4,000 to Gansler's campaign account. Bregman also contributed to current Attorney General Brian Frosh, and wrote a $1250 check to Leggett's campaign.

When Bregman's report - shocker! - cleared the Planning Department of wrongdoing, Gansler declined to investigate. The local press ceased covering Farm Road, and no true, independent investigation of the Planning Department ever took place.

When Carrier left the Planning Board, she joined the law firm of...Douglas Bregman. I am shocked. Shocked. You can't make this stuff up, folks. This is the proverbial revolving door, now coming around yet again.

Keep all of this in mind when you consider Carrier and Bregman will now represent your interests in this sweetheart deal to sell County land (a.k.a. taxpayer-owned land) to Percontee, "at below market value." God help us. This is happening at a time when developer-beholden County elected officials are telling us there is no money, and no land for new schools or bus depots.

According to a report by Bill Turque of the Washington Post, Carrier and Bregman will be paid $425-$525 per hour, to do the work we are already paying $190,000 a year for Mr. Hansen to do.

How, knowing all of this full well, could eight councilmembers have voted to hire Carrier and Bregman? Couldn't they have simply declined the nominations, and held out for truly-independent outside counsel? And why wouldn't they? Well, for starters, it suggests that they are, along with Leggett, behind the move to hire the pair.

And, let's be honest, this is the same "progressive" County Council that created a federal tax shelter worth $360,000,000 for one of their biggest campaign contributors. The same County Council that - minus Elrich - receives 82% of its campaign funds from developers. And the same Council that, after defeating the once-powerful Columbia Country Club and Town of Chevy Chase in the Purple Line battle, believes they are now invincible and entitled to do anything. In other words, they will intentionally engage in a massive breach of ethics simply because they can. It's just that attitude and chutzpah which have created the wide support among tax-stomped voters for term limits this year.


Bethesda construction update: Element 28 luxury apartments (Photos)

Construction of Kettler's Element 28 luxury apartment tower continues to approach the finish line. That includes the glowing leaf sculpture at street level, 101 apartments, and 3500 SF of retail space. Element 28's official address will be 100 Commerce Lane, across Old Georgetown Road from the Bethesda Metro station.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

WOW Cellphone Repair opens in Bethesda (Photos)

WOW Cellphone Repair has just opened in downtown Bethesda. In addition to fixing your phone, they also repair tablets, computers and game consoles. The shop is located in the Shoppes of Bethesda on Hampden Lane, where The Lauren sales office used to be.

American Tap Room closed today for renovations at Bethesda Row (Photos)

American Tap Room will be closed today, Wednesday, September 21, for renovations. They will reopen tomorrow, September 22, for a "relaunch" of the restaurant. Given that the chain's Clarendon location closed recently, there may have been some concern among patrons finding the restaurant closed. However, as you can see in the photos here, there are actual renovations going on inside.

H&M is coming to Pike & Rose

Montgomery County shoppers will have one more location of H&M to choose from in the future - in Phase 2 of Federal Realty's Pike & Rose development. The international fast-fashion chain has leased a 24032 SF space in the currently-unnamed luxury apartment building under construction at the northwest corner of Grand Park Avenue and PerSei Place. Sur la Table will be in the same building along Grand Park Avenue.

The deal marks the return of H&M to the Pike District of North Bethesda. H&M previously had a store in the now-demolished White Flint Mall.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2 assaults on Cordell Ave., liquor arrest in Bethesda parking garage + more - Bethesda crime update

Here's a roundup of crimes reported across Bethesda on September 17, according to crime data:

Liquor arrest. 4900 block St. Elmo Avenue.

Liquor arrest. Parking Garage 40.

Assault. 4900 block Cordell Avenue.

Assault. 4900 block Cordell Avenue.

Disorderly conduct. 4900 block Cordell Avenue.

Theft. 5400 block Friendship Boulevard.

Burglary. 9400 block Crimson Leaf Terrace.

Met Bethesda closes, Smart Toys closes temporarily; Sheepskin Gifts opens, Halloween Adventure coming Friday (Photos)

Met Bethesda, one of several upscale restaurants lured to Westfield Montgomery Mall during its expansion two years ago, has closed. The restaurant was empty yesterday, and the website appeared to be down this morning. It's going to be a challenge to fill this spot, and I would not be surprised if it was converted to retail space. Still, second floor spaces are tricky for retail as much as restaurants, when they are as isolated as this one is.

Also closing, but just until the holidays, is Smart Toys. Halloween Adventure, a pop-up shop featuring costumes and scary accessories, will take over the space this Friday, September 23.
Finally, Sheepskin Gifts and Alpaca Too has opened.