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Police Looking For Jimmy Choo Bandits

by BethesdaNow.com | January 11, 2013 at 7:45 pm | 1 Comment

Montgomery County Police released surveillance images of three suspects they say made off with $10,000 worth of handbags on Wednesday at the Jimmy Choo store in Friendship Heights.

Police were called to the store (5481 Wisconsin Ave.) around noon on Wednesday after store employees said three black male suspects entered and quickly stole the handbags. Police said the suspects spent only 10 to 15 seconds in the store before leaving in a red, four-day sedan waiting outside on Wisconsin Avenue that was being driven by a fourth black male.

Police tonight released stills from surveillance video at a nearby department store they said shows three of the suspects before they snagged the bags at Jimmy Choo.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact detectives from the 2nd District at 301-657-0112 or the MCPD’s non-emergency line at 301-279-8000.

Crime Solvers recently upped its cash reward to $10,000 for tips that lead to an arrest or an indictment for a felony crime.

Photos via MCPD

 

Chevy Chase Village Taking Personal Approach To Stopping Thefts From Cars

by BethesdaNow.com | January 11, 2013 at 3:30 pm | No Comments

Chevy Chase Village was hit hard by thieves who stole iPods, GPS units and other electronics from cars last year, so police this weekend will begin making a personal plea to residents.

Starting tomorrow, Chevy Chase Village Police officers will go door-to-door on Saturday and Sunday afternoons to deliver a one-page flyer and remind residents to lock their cars.

In 2012, the town of about 2,000 residents and 0.4 square miles was home to 97 thefts from autos, a 40 percent increase compared to 2011. In October, police chief John Fitzgerald won approval for a special police bait car from the Village Board, to the tune of $3,800:

The common denominator to these thefts is the unlocked car parked overnight.  I urge each of you to help us eliminate these thefts by doing a few simple things:

  1. Lock your car every time you park.
  2. Remove all valuables from your car.
  3. Leave your front porch light on all night long.
  4. Call the police whenever you see or hear anything suspicious.

Thefts from autos in 2011 were down 23 percent compared to 2011 for the entire Montgomery County Police Bethesda District, according to numbers released yesterday.

But car thieves remain a threat. There were 901 reported in 2012. A case in an unincorporated section of Chevy Chase over New Year’s Eve got some attention after a resident caught the thief breaking into cars in a driveway with a home security camera.

At least three of those cars were unlocked, police said.

New Art Studio Planned For Bethesda Crescent

by BethesdaNow.com | January 11, 2013 at 2:30 pm | No Comments

A studio and gallery for area artists is likely coming to a building next to the Bethesda Metro station, thanks to a deal the developer worked out with the Bethesda Urban Partnership and Montgomery County Planning Department.

Brookfield Office Properties will supply BUP with 1,200 square feet of vacant retail space in its Bethesda Crescent building (7475 Wisconsin Ave.) for art studios and exhibition space to make up for a renovated lobby that will do away with three commissioned pieces of art.

Under terms of an agreement that will go before the Planning Board next week, the developer will also give BUP a financial contribution of $23,000 as reimbursement for lighting upgrades in the Bethesda Metro tunnel that also includes BUP’s “Art Under the Avenue” exhibit.

The deal also includes a $3,500 contribution to sponsor “Art Under the Avenue” and free rent for the art studio for 10 years.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman said the new studio will act as a “mini Torpedo Factory,” referring to the popular studio, gallery and workshop facility in Alexandria, Va.

Specific plans for how the new studio will be set up are being finalized. The Planning Board is expected to approve the deal, as recommended by Planning Department staff.

Photos via Bethesda Urban Partnership and Montgomery County Planning Department

Bethesda Green Hosting Small Business Forum

by BethesdaNow.com | January 11, 2013 at 1:35 pm | No Comments

Bethesda Green will host the second part of a workshop series for small businesses looking to expand in the green economy on Jan. 31 at its headquarters.

The “What Investors Are Looking For and How To Pitch,” workshop will include advice on the key things investors hope to see in startup companies hoping for funding.

The event is the second of six workshops and forums over the next half-year that Bethesda Green hopes can help some local green businesses succeed. The green nonprofit has a business incubator program and last fall hosted pitches at the Startup Maryland tour.

The fee is $15 per workshop and calls networking and light refreshments at 8 a.m. The program runs from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Bethesda Green is located above the Capital One Bank at 4825 Cordell Ave. in Suite 200.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the event website.

Brickside Hopes To Open By February

by BethesdaNow.com | January 11, 2013 at 12:40 pm | 1 Comment

The co-owner of the much anticipated Brickside Food & Drink in the works for Cordell Avenue said he hopes the restaurant is opened by February, though some permitting inspections await.

Brian Vasile said the bar and restaurant at 4866 Cordell Ave. won’t be open on Jan. 21, as reported by a Bethesda Urban Partnership representative at a neighborhood advisory group this morning.

But it should debut soon after. Vasile, who with his partners owns Grand Central in Adams Morgan, didn’t want to put a date on the opening just in case.

The restaurant is taking over a space that has been notorious for high turnover. Bubby’s deli lasted less than a year. In November, Vasile said he thinks the prohibition-era style bar and partnership with respected area chef Andrea Pace can help buck that trend.

Advisory Group Urges Action on Bethesda Master Plan

by BethesdaNow.com | January 11, 2013 at 11:30 am | No Comments

A group of residents, developers and business representatives are urging the Montgomery County Planning Board and Montgomery County Council to expedite a revision of Bethesda’s aging master plan as residential development ramps up.

The Woodmont Triangle Action Group today approved a letter to Planning Board Chair Francoise Carrier and members of the County Council that asks the bodies to move up the Bethesda Central Business District (CBD) Sector Plan Update in the work schedule.

The 1994 Sector Plan, which the Planning Department still uses to judge proposed projects, is outdated and fails to account for “the balance of jobs, housing and public amenities that will allow the Bethesda area to continue to function as the economic engine for Montgomery County,” the letter states.

The Council is scheduled to make changes to the Planning Board work program at its first session of the year on Tuesday, but discussion of the Bethesda Sector Plan is not expected.

The Planning Board is occupied with a number of Purple Line-focused Sector Plans, including Chevy Chase Lake, and last year the Council moved up the Clarksburg Sector Plan to deal with pollution from development near a creek.

But WTAG members say while Bethesda is not unique, a revised plan for the CBD could serve as a model for others such as Silver Spring and Wheaton.

Members want the Board to look at the “cumulative impact” of development in Bethesda, or how the wealth of new apartment projects affect the need for civic space and parks and how an influx of new residents might weigh on already clogged traffic and overcrowded schools.

“Because the Sector Plan has not been updated in almost two decades, Park and Planning staff must be struggling to review development plans in light of current and future conditions and needs,” the letter states.

Bethesda Group Hopes To Find ‘Tipping Point’ In Getting Cars Off The Road

by BethesdaNow.com | January 11, 2013 at 10:30 am | 3 Comments

Plenty of people complain about traffic congestion in Bethesda.

But despite the daily slog up Wisconsin Avenue or the lane closures and construction projects causing detours downtown, only some seem willing to ditch the comfort of their cars for other options.

That’s the constant challenge facing Kristen Blackmon and her staff at Bethesda Transportation Solutions, a division of the nonprofit, county-funded Bethesda Urban Partnership charged with getting cars off downtown Bethesda roads by encouraging biking, telework, the use of mass transit and other ways to avoid rush hours.

“No one wants to get on a bus and have no idea where they’re going to end up. We’ve had people tell us they’re afraid of putting their bike on the bus. They don’t want to look dumb or hold up the bus driver,” Blackmon said. “There’s this sort of barrier that we have to break, calming the fears.”

BTS works directly with Bethesda employers, serving as a middleman of sorts for negotiating the state’s Commuter Tax Credit process, which provides benefits to companies that offer transit subsidies. BTS helps businesses set up teleworking systems and even will act as a “commuter buddy,” a one-on-one consultation for commuters new to the bus system or bike routes.

Still, motivating employees to embrace alternative options is difficult, even as America’s car-based culture declines.

“One of the biggest things employers tell me is, ‘What can you tell me that I can tell my employees to get out of their car that I’m not already doing,’” said BTS outreach representative Derrick Harrigan, who acts as a face-to-face liaison to Bethesda businesses. “They could be providing a subsidy already and just not getting a lot of people using it.”

(more…)

Morning Notes

by BethesdaNow.com | January 11, 2013 at 9:30 am | No Comments

New Owners Close On Air Rights Center, Development Ahead — MRP Realty and Rockpoint on Wednesday finalized a deal to buy the Air Rights Center, the office complex on Wisconsin Avenue and Montgomery Avenue downtown. The property includes a Pearl Street site approved for a 150,000-square-foot office building. [Washington Business Journal]

Bruce Variety Closing Sunday, Could Be On The Move Soon — Bruce Variety is closing its longtime Bradley Shopping Center location on Sunday, but the wife of the owner said they’re in negotiations to relocate to a nearby site in Bethesda. Blogger Robert Dyer said rumors point to the former Creative Parties Ltd. house on Woodmont Avenue, which Creative Parties left last month for more stability. [Bethesda Patch] [Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row]

B-CC Runner Wins Prestigious Award — Bethesda-Chevy Chase sophomore Caroline Beakes was named Gatorade’s Maryland Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year after winning the Class 4A individual state title. She’s the first to win the award from B-CC. [Gatorade]

Flickr photo by atorphoto

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