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by BethesdaNow.com — January 15, 2013 at 3:30 pm 1 Comment

The owner of the recently closed BP gas station at 4990 Fairmont Avenue today confirmed a report from real estate website bisnow.com that the property will be converted to a 17-story, 70-unit condo building near the heart of Bethesda’s downtown.

Owner Jay Hellman wouldn’t comment on the specifics of the plan for the property but did say “we’re working on taking it to the next stages of its life.”

Chevy Chase-based developer Starr Capital is a partner in the deal, according to bisnow.com.

A representative told the website it secured financing for the project in December and must be rezoned over a two year period before ground can be broken.

The site also includes a small office building.

by BethesdaNow.com — January 15, 2013 at 2:30 pm 0

An underground garage renovation could force another long term closure in one of Bethesda’s busiest areas.

Four months into the Lot 31 project at Bethesda Row, Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman said the Bethesda Metro station bus bays might be shut down for two years to accomodate the private garage project of office building owner Brookfield Properties.

Brookfield bought Three Bethesda Metro Center in 2011 for $150 million and has submitted a traffic mitigation plan to Montgomery County because they would like to redo the garage for that building that lies under the bus bays.

According to Bethesda Patch, that construction could start as soon as this year, though at a Friday meeting of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group, Hartman said the county is “methodically” going through the traffic mitigation plan.

“It would be a major hassle for at least two years,” Hartman told the group of residents, developers and others.

A representative from Brookfield has not responded to a request for more information on the nature of the garage project.

The closure of the bus bays would force the county, WMATA and others to find alternate places for buses to go.

by BethesdaNow.com — January 15, 2013 at 1:30 pm 0

The CEO of the Children’s Inn at NIH, a Bethesda billionaire with some major philanthropic deeds to his name and a former Army psychologist with one of the most successful wounded warrior programs going at Walter Reed were named “Washingtonians of the Year 2012” this month by Washingtonian Magazine.

As CEO, Kathy Russell has helped build the Children’s Inn, which provides permanent living situations for parents and families of sick children from around the country undergoing treatment at NIH.

Bethesda’s David Rubenstein, co-founder of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group, was honored for his “philanthropy that unites Washington.”

Rubenstein recently donated $2 million for a new organ in the Kennedy Center’s Concert Hall and $1.5 million to the Library of Congress.

Ken Strafer, an Army vet who was injured in an IED blast in 2004, started Project Enduring Pride, which helps wounded veterans at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center get off the base and provides other support activities.

Photo via Washingtonian Magazine

by BethesdaNow.com — January 15, 2013 at 12:15 pm 0

Chevy Chase resident Ajay Bhatt is using his love of yoga as inspiration for a unique type of inaugural ball this weekend.

Bhatt came up with the idea for an inaugural yoga ball, in partnership with Off The Mat Into the World and YogaVotes.

The event, on Sunday at St. Francis Hall (1340 Quincy Street, NE, Washington, DC), will include an asana yoga practice with D.C. yogi Faith Hunter, vegetarian meal provided by D.C. Central Kitchen, live music, meditation and Kirtan — the call-and-response spiritual chanting that’s growing in popularity.

“Yoga practice — on and off the mat — inherently cultivates awareness, compassion and sustainability. These qualities draw us together as a community and lend themselves to healing divisiveness and disengagement,” Bhatt said in a press release. “Our goal is to offer the community here in the nation’s capital a chance to set the most positive intention possible for the new term, in hopes for a productive and cooperative future for local and national governments.”

Bhatt is hoping for 150 attendees. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 at the door and proceeds will go to support Off The Mat Into the World, the nonprofit organization that uses yoga as inspiration for volunteerism and humanitarian projects around the world.

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

by BethesdaNow.com — January 15, 2013 at 11:00 am 0

Montgomery County Police yesterday slammed a District Court judge’s ruling on a controversial Bethesda speed camera and said the Department would not review other cases in which citations were issued by the camera.

Judge John Moffett on Monday ruled for attorney and political activist Robin Ficker, who claimed the speed camera in the 4300 block of Jones Bridge Road was improperly placed. Ficker got a $40 citation from the camera on Sept. 5 and argued the camera was not placed within 300 feet of a residence.

Moffett agreed and rescinded Ficker’s citation. But Police say Moffett misinterpreted Maryland Transportation Article 21-101, which defines a residential district as an area where there is at least 300 feet of residences.

Speed cameras can only be placed in residential areas, according to state law. Police made their disagreement with the ruling clear in a press release:

Based on the guidelines set forth by the Maryland Transportation Article and the data obtained from the Montgomery County DTS-GIS, the M-NCPPC, and the U.S. Census Bureau, the Montgomery County Police Department maintains that the speed camera was properly placed.  The Department continues to monitor the speed-camera program to ensure compliance with state guidelines.

Judge Moffett’s decision does not establish a precedent that will be binding in other cases presented in court, and the decision in this case does not require a modification of Department policy.  The Department will not be reviewing other cases in which citations were issued by this speed camera.

The camera is on the eastbound side of Jones Bridge Road near a golf course and across from the entrance to the Uniformed Services University on the Walter Reed campus. The nearest home is 270 yards away.

by BethesdaNow.com — January 15, 2013 at 10:00 am 0

County Executive Isiah Leggett (D) today recommended delaying funding for two major Bethesda projects in limbo.

In his recommended Fiscal Year 2014 Capital Budget, Leggett proposes a six-month delay for funding of the Bethesda Metro Station South Entrance.

He also recommended keeping the $9 million county share of the failed public/private partnership to build a new 2nd District Police Station as a placeholder while the county searches for alternatives. The revised CIP estimates a one-year delay on the project.

Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center Director Ken Hartman said last week the county was still searching for new private developer partners and also considering rebuilding the station in its Montgomery Lane and Wisconsin Avenue location of more than 50 years. Leggett’s CIP states the county will revise the costs when the nature of the project is known.

The Metro Station South Entrance drew attention during the five-year capital budget process last year when the County Council agreed to devote $80 million in funding for a project that’s dependent on the creation of the light rail Purple Line. The entrance would connect the Metro platform 120 feet underground to the Purple Line station at Elm Street west of Wisconsin Avenue.

The $2.15 billion Purple Line lacks funding, and according to some, is in jeopardy of ever being built. Leggett said his recommended funding delay to the South Entrance wouldn’t delay construction of the project as it must wait for certainty around the Purple Line.

Other revised CIP Bethesda projects include:

Flickr photo by thisisbossi

by BethesdaNow.com — January 15, 2013 at 8:35 am 0

Frosh, Others Promise Not To Bog Down O’Malley’s Gun Control Proposal With Additional Measures — Leading Democrats in Annapolis, including State Sen. Brian Frosh (D-Bethesda-Chevy Chase), say they would like to see additional gun control measures tacked on to Gov. Martin O’Malley’s proposal but promised not to derail its chance of passing. [Washington Post]

Montgomery County Releases 2013 Summer Camp Guide — The county will hold its 18th Annual Camp Summer Program Expo at White Flint Mall (11301 Rockville Pike) on Saturday, Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday, Jan. 27 from noon to 5 p.m. [Montgomery County Recreation]

Chevy Chase Group Talks Living In Place — Chevy Chase senior group Chevy Chase At Home today will host a talk on how to modify a home to make living easier for aging in place. The event runs from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Chevy Chase Village Hall (5906 Connecticut Ave.).

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