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Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | April 17, 2014 at 9:20 am | No Comments

Flickr photo by ehpien

Tiger Grant Applications Include Capital Crescent Trail, Bethesda Metro Entrance – Montgomery County and the state of Maryland are applying for a piece of the pie in the next round of federal TIGER Grant funding. The pair is hoping for some federal funding of the new Capital Crescent Trail, a 4-3-mile shared use path from Bethesda to Silver Spring to run along the Purple Line. Separately, Montgomery County is applying for TIGER Grant funding for its Bethesda Metro Station South Entrance and a study of bus rapid transit on Rockville Pike. There is about $600 million of TIGER Grant money to be given out among transportation projects around the country. [National Capital Region Transportation Planning Board]

National Prescription Take Back Day – There will be two take back locations for unused or expired prescription medications or over-the-counter drugs on Saturday, April 26. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., you can bring those medications to the Chevy Chase Village Police Department at 5906 Connecticut Ave. or the Friendship Heights Community Center at 4433 S. Park Ave. [Montgomery County]

Whitman Grad Grabs Terps’ Starting Job – Class of 2012 Whitman High School graduate Michael Dunn has quickly solidified himself as a starting offensive linemen for the Maryland football team. Dunn started all 13 games last season, splitting time at right guard and right tackle. This season, the Terps’ first in the Big Ten conference, he projects as the team’s starting right tackle. [The Gazette]

Flickr photo by ehpien

Politics Roundup: Gansler Says He’s Closing Gap In Polls, Key Endorsements

by Aaron Kraut | April 16, 2014 at 3:25 pm | 131 views | No Comments

Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Doug Gansler (file photo)Gansler Releases Internal Poll That Shows He’s Closing The Gap – Gubernatorial hopeful Doug Gansler this week released an internal poll that his campaign claimed shows he’s closing the gap on Anthony Brown.

The poll, commissioned by Gansler’s campaign and done by The Mellman Group, shows the gap between Gansler and Brown for the Democratic nomination is now 9 percentage points, compared to 23 percentage points in a February poll by the same pollster.

A Washington Post poll had Brown with a 19-point lead over Gansler in February.

The Gansler poll released this week was based on a survey of 600 voters and had 31 percent favoring Brown, 22 percent favoring Gansler, 8 percent favoring Heather Mizuer and 40 percent undecided.

The Mellman Group the undecided number was significantly lower (29 percent) in February, what Gansler’s campaign said is a sign that people are unhappy with Brown’s roll in the implementation of the state’s failed healthcare exchange.

The state recently decided to ditch its exchange and implement a new one.

Berliner Gets Union Endorsement – A local education workers union has given its endorsement to incumbent District 1 Councilmember Roger Berliner, despite opponent Duchy Trachtenberg’s efforts to win labor support.

SEIU Local 500, which represents MCPS employees and Montgomery College professors, among others, sided with Berliner in a batch of County Council endorsements released this week.

Trachtenberg is working hard to repair relations with local unions after a falling out led to those unions targeting her in the 2010 primary, which she lost as an at-large Council incumbent. Trachtenberg has hired the former executive director of the county’s main employee union as her campaign director.

Korman Gets NARAL Pro-Choice Endorsement – In the likewise competitive District 16 House of Delegates race, candidate Marc Korman announced a key endorsement from the NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC.

The group also gives out 100 percent ratings, a recent source of controversy in neighboring District 18. Korman is running against incumbents Ariana Kelly and Bill Frick, plus five other challengers for three seats in the June 24 Democratic primary.

Hrant Jamgochian, thought to be a leading contender along with Korman, recently picked up the key “Apple Ballot” endorsement of the Montgomery County Education Association. MCEA also put its support behind Frick and Kelly.

“We are very excited about Marc’s race for the Maryland House of Delegates in District 16 and are proud to issue our endorsement,” Erin Schurmann, a NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland PAC board member, said in a press release. “Marc has always been a strong activist for reproductive rights and health in District 16 and Montgomery County. We know that he will be a superb leader and effective advocate when elected and look forward to partnering with him.”

Freeze Warning In Effect Again Thursday Morning

by Aaron Kraut | April 16, 2014 at 2:35 pm | No Comments

The mid-April cold hasn’t quite left the area. The National Weather Service on Wednesday issued a Freeze Warning for early Thursday morning, with temperatures expected to be in the upper 20s and lower 30s starting Wednesday night:

…FREEZE WARNING IN EFFECT FROM 2 AM TO 9 AM EDT THURSDAY… THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE IN BALTIMORE MD/WASHINGTON HAS ISSUED A FREEZE WARNING…WHICH IS IN EFFECT FROM 2 AM TO 9 AM EDT THURSDAY. THE FREEZE WATCH IS NO LONGER IN EFFECT.

* TEMPERATURES…LOWS IN THE UPPER 20S TO LOWER 30S LATE TONIGHT.

* TIMING…LATE TONIGHT INTO EARLY THURSDAY MORNING.

* IMPACTS…UNPROTECTED COLD-SENSITIVE VEGETATION WILL BE KILLED OR DAMAGED.

Tomorrow’s temperature is expected to climb back toward 60 degrees, with temperatures in the 60s forecast for the weekend.

Court Records: BlackFinn Owes $129,000 In Rent

by Aaron Kraut | April 16, 2014 at 1:45 pm | 423 views | No Comments

Shuttered BlackFinn American Saloon in Bethesda

The shuttered BlackFinn American Saloon owes nearly $130,000 in rent, according to a lawsuit filed last week by the restaurant’s landlord.

White Flint Express LLC, a holding company part of property owner Greenhill Capital, filed suit against BlackFinn last Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court.

The landlord alleges that BlackFinn owes $129,492.01 in rent through April.

The popular bar and restaurant on a prominent corner of Woodmont Triangle did not open for business on Tuesday, April 1. The next day, it announced through its website that it was permanently closed.

Multiple attempts to reach Paul Derrico, one of the restaurant owners listed in a similar lawsuit over late rent in 2012, have been unsuccessful. Derrico opened the restaurant at 4901 Fairmont Ave. in 2007.

The restaurant remains locked down, with signs advising locksmiths not to attempt change the locks without permission from Greenhill Capital.

Budget, Stone Ridge Improvements On The Agenda For Next Week

by Aaron Kraut | April 16, 2014 at 12:45 pm | 72 views | No Comments

Suburban Hospital expansion rendering, via Suburban HospitalA pair of citizen committees will discuss budget priorities, new projects at the Stone Ridge School and maybe even the latest on Suburban Hospital’s modernization project.

On Monday, April 21, the Western Montgomery County Citizens Advisory Board will meet at 7 p.m. and hear from Councilmember Roger Berliner (D-Bethesda-Chevy Chase) on prominent issues in front of the Council and the FY 15 operating budget.

On Tuesday, April 22, the Walter Reed BRAC Integration Committee will meet to get updates on local intersection improvement projects, and a presentation from the Stone Ridge School about construction on a new athletic field.

Also tentatively scheduled is an update on Suburban Hospital’s “2020 Campus Enhancement Plan.” The hospital plans a 235,000-square-foot addition that will mean some consolidation and a new four-story building, plus a 1,125-space garage that will require the abandonment of Lincoln Street.

Both meetings will start at 7 p.m. at the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center (4805 Edgemoor Lane).

Photo via Suburban Hospital

Bethesda’s Building Boom, A Year Later

by Aaron Kraut | April 16, 2014 at 11:30 am | 624 views | 1 Comment

Last year around this time, we took a look at the many construction projects going on around downtown Bethesda.

A year later, a few of those projects are done or near completion. Some have made significant progress, but still have a ways to go. Others broke ground and still more are scheduled to start.

Here’s a quick reference guide of some of the major construction projects in Bethesda, as of April 2014.

The Gallery of Bethesda, Rugby Avenue

Gallery of Bethesda construction in March 2013 July 2013, construction of The Gallery Bethesda apartments in Woodmont Triangle The completed Gallery of Bethesda in early 2014

The first of two buildings in Donohoe’s Gallery of Bethesda project was completed earlier this year. The 17-story, 235-unit apartment bills itself as the tallest building in Bethesda and has begun move-ins. A 16-story, 221-unit companion building is planned for next door, though ground hasn’t been broken on that project.

Bainbridge Bethesda, Fairmont and St Elmo Avenues

March 2013 construction at the Bainbridge Bethesda project, a 17-story apartment in Woodmont Triangle Bainbridge Bethesda April 2014 April 2014 Bainbridge Bethesda

This 17-story, 200-unit apartment building isn’t completely finished. Demolition of older buildings and excavation work began in August 2011, but controversy soon followed.

The building is expect to be completed later this year, possibly this summer.

Lot 31, Bethesda and Woodmont Avenues

 April 2014 Lot 31 construction

This multi-faceted project meant closing Woodmont Avenue south of Bethesda Avenue in September 2012. When the underground garage — a 940-space facility to be operated by Montgomery County — is done, the road will reopen. That’s expected later this year.

On top of that will go a 64-unit luxury condominium building (The Darcy) and a 186-unit apartment building (The Flats) from developer StonebridgeCarras.

The developer has begun announcing some of its main ground-floor tenants, a group to be led by a new Silver Diner restaurant concept and upscale seafood outfit PassionFish.

8300 Wisconsin Avenue

October 2012, 8300 Wisconsin Ave August 2013, 8300 Wisconsin Avenue, via StonebridgeCarras December 2013 at 8300 Wisconsin Avenue, via StonebridgeCarras

The future home of a Harris Teeter grocery store and 360 residential units started excavation last year. Projected completion is spring or summer of 2015.

4500 East-West Highway 

The first new office building built in downtown Bethesda in more than a decade is expected to finish up later in 2014.

7001 Arlington Road

March 2013 at the 7100 Arlington Road project April 2014 at the 7100 Arlington Road project April 2014 at the 7100 Arlington Road project

This five-story, 145-unit apartment building on the former site of the U.S. Post Office on Arlington Road backs up to the Capital Crescent Trail. That will surely be a draw for residents.

The post office building was demolished in March 2013.

April construction at the 7770 Norfolk Avenue project7770 Norfolk Avenue

Across Fairmont Avenue from Bainbridge Bethesda is developer JBG’s 17-story, 250-unit apartment building, formerly known as 4900 Fairmont. JBG broke ground in October 2013.

4825 Montgomery Lane

The five-floor, four-unit building between Arlington Road and Woodmont Avenue is on the site of a former single family home and will soon have company.

The Lauren, 4901 Hampden Lane

That company will come in the form of The Lauren, an ultra-luxury condo building slated for just around the corner from Montgomery Lane. The developer there got demolition approval in February.

Proposed sculpture at Element 28, at Commerce Lane and Old Georgetown RoadElement 28, Old Georgetown Road and Commerce Lane

The 15-story, 120-unit apartment from developer Kettler will go on the existing site of the United Bank near the Bethesda Metro station. The bank moved to another building on Wisconsin Avenue and the demolition permit for that building has been issued.

Woodmont View, Battery Lane and Woodmont Triangle

Developer Duball will break ground on its nine-story, 46-unit luxury condo project at the corner of Battery Lane and Woodmont Triangle later this year. It could be interesting. The building will have just 60 feet of frontage on Battery Lane and must be sandwiched between Woodmont Avenue and an existing mid-rise apartment building.

Completion is slated for 2016.

7100 Wisconsin

Rendering for 7100 Wisconsin Ave., via Montgomery County Planning Department Eastham's Servicenter (file photo)

The longtime site of the gas station that housed Eastham’s Auto Servicenter will soon be home to a 120-foot-tall, 139-unit apartment building from Washington Property Company.

Eastham’s will complete its move-out this month, which means groundbreaking at the site won’t be too far behind.

Coworking Space Coming To Bethesda’s Former Air Rights Building

by Aaron Kraut | April 16, 2014 at 10:15 am | 215 views | No Comments

Via UberOffices

A nearly 20,000-square-foot coworking space with more than 50 offices for local startups is coming to the newly minted Bethesda Crossing building on Wisconsin Avenue.

UberOffices, the coworking office company with facilities in Tysons, Arlington and Dupont Circle will officially open up shop at 7315 Wisconsin Ave. on May 19.

Founder and CEO Raymond Rahbar said he expects many of the companies will come from the life sciences, biotechnology and technology sectors.

Bethesda Crossing, 7315 Wisconsin Ave.“That will be a little different than Tysons and Arlington,” Rahbar said. “We think this is a great market for us. Right now, all the media spotlight is on D.C. for good reason, but Arlington, Bethesda and Tysons are still great market and filled with great companies.”

UberOffices opened its Dupont Circle office share in March. Rahbar said the Bethesda space will build on the experience the company had building out that property.

The first 20 companies that sign up will get the rest of 2014 half-off. Coworking spaces allow startups to have an office without the cost of going it alone. There are traditionally offices that will fit one or two people, starting at rents of $1,000 a month.

The space also offers a common kitchen area and a number of conference rooms, plus single desks that can be rented out for around $300 a month.

MRP Realty, which bought the Air Rights building last year and gave it the Bethesda Crossing moniker, is putting the building through a $30 million renovation project.

UberOffices will have a launch party for the Bethesda location in late May.

Photo via UberOffices

Morning Notes

by Aaron Kraut | April 16, 2014 at 9:05 am | 104 views | No Comments

Lot 31 construction on Wednesday morning

MCPS To Hold Meetings On Fairness Of Private Donations – MCPS is studying the fairness of its private booster donation policy, especially when it comes to funds raised by schools with wealthier parent populations. Critics say the current policy leads to inequities between schools. The closest of the three public meetings to our area will happen on Thursday, May 8 at Churchill High School (11300 Gainsborough Rd.). MCPS says the meetings will be part of the larger study that could lead to changes in the policy for next school year. [The Gazette]

Town of Chevy Chase Council Member Retiring – David Lublin, who has been on the Council of the Town of Chevy Chase for six years, announced his retirement from the position on his politics blog, the Seventh State. Lublin said he will step down this May, at the end of his term. The Town Council has five members. [Seventh State]

‘House of Cards’ Won’t Be Bolting Across the Potomac – According to Virginia’s Film Office director, the Netflix show’s demands for incentive were too much for the state. The production company behind the show threatened to stop filming in Maryland if it wasn’t given millions more in tax credits. The General Assembly didn’t provide those extra millions and now it’s up to the governor’s office to find a way to bridge the gap. [Virginia Public Radio via WAMU]

Bethesda House Fire Causes $100,000 In Damage

by Aaron Kraut | April 16, 2014 at 8:05 am | 391 views | No Comments

MCFRS (file photo)A house fire overnight in the Wood Acres neighborhood caused $100,000 of damage, according to Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Services.

Firefighters were called to the home at 5708 Cromwell Drive around 1 a.m. and found the home’s occupants had already gotten out. The fire started in the electric panel of a basement utility room, according to MCFRS spokesperson Pete Piringer.

At 1:25 a.m., Piringer tweeted that the fire was under control.

Wednesday morning, he tweeted that the fire caused $75,000 of damage to the house and $25,000 to its contents. There were no injuries.

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