by BethesdaNow.com — February 8, 2013 at 3:45 pm 0

Editor’s Note: This weekly sponsored column is written by Arash Tafakor, owner of Georgetown Square Wine and Beer (10400 Old Georgetown Road).

You’ve bought the Valentine’s Day gift, bought the flowers, got the meal all planned — the only thing left to dazzle your special someone this Valentine’s Day is that perfect sparkling Rosé wine.

Rosé sparkling wine is a perfect way to celebrate romance. It’s beautiful pinkish color and flowing bubbles definitely excites the romantic senses. Rosé sparkling wine is the same thing as white sparkling wine except for one part done early in the wine making process. Winemakers leave the red grape skin in contact with the wine for a short amount of time, usually 12-24 hours. Red wines are made with the skin being in contact with the wine for several weeks, but only leaving them in contact for a short period of time leaves the wine color a beautiful pink.  This is the same process that produces rosé wines as well.

Rosé sparkling wines come in a variety of price ranges. You can find a domestic sparkling rosé for fewer than 10 dollars, but the quality will not be there and a headache will ensue. You can also purchase a high end rosé champagne that can cost well over 100 dollars, but after purchasing a gift, flowers and dinner, money might be a little tight for that. Here is a list of quality sparkling rosés that you do not have to break the bank for.

Gruet NV Rose New Mexico, U.S.A

When I first was introduced to Gruet sparkling wines, I was a bit skeptical about the grapes being from New Mexico. New Mexico isn’t exactly known for top quality wine growing, but once I tasted these sparkling wines, I was astonished by how well-made they were.

Using the same method as champagne, this rosé is under 20 dollars, and is an excellent value at the price point. Exhibiting a bright floral nose and hints of strawberry, raspberry and cherry, this sparkling rosé will be a perfect match for Valentine’s Day.


by BethesdaNow.com — February 8, 2013 at 3:15 pm 0

A Montgomery County Council committee will discuss a bill that could mean thousands of dollars in help for recognized green businesses.

The Green Organization Supplement, proposed by Bethesda Councilman Roger Berliner (D), could mean as much as $25,000 for green businesses annually. The bill comes out of the county’s Green Economy Task Force, which recommended more incentives for companies in the green sector.

At issue in the Monday afternoon committee hearing on the measure will be what exactly makes a business “green.” The Department of Economic Development has suggested that a green product or service be defined as “a product or service that measures, prevents, limits, minimizes or corrects environmental damage to water, air and soil, as well as problems related to waste, ecosystems, biodiversity, habitat or natural resource depletion.”

A similar county-funded incentive package for biotechnology companies provided $500,000 in supplement funds in 2012, according to the Department of Economic Development. There were 66 awards, ranging from $2,000 to $42,000. The average award was around $7,500.

Bethesda Green executive director David Feldman was a member of the county task force, which came out with its recommendations in 2010. The nonprofit based in Woodmont Triangle has a green business incubator, which works closely with the county’s Economic Development people.

The task force also recommended using Bethesda Green and its incubator program as a model for “Green Business Zones” in other areas.

The committee discussion of the bill is scheduled for 2 p.m. and will be shown live on County Cable Montgomery.

by BethesdaNow.com — February 8, 2013 at 1:45 pm 0

Development at White Flint won some more recognition earlier this week as one of seven projects to be honored at the first Maryland Sustainable Growth Awards in Annapolis.

The Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission had Christopher Leinberger, author of a George Washington University study on Washington area walkable communities, speak about what he sees as the benefits of smart growth-oriented projects such as White Flint.

The video above includes interviews with a Montgomery County planner and four of the biggest companies driving that transformation.

The award was presented to “White Flint Sector Implementation Project,” described by the Commission below:

The White Flint Sector Plan set the stage for transforming a car-centric suburban shopping district known for its sea of parking lots and choking traffic into a dynamic mixed-use center featuring housing, shopping, public use space, and a favorable environment for walking and cycling.

The White Flint Sector Plan area consists of 430 acres with approximately 160 acres as surface parking. Low-scale commercial development is the dominant use in the plan area. For example, Mid-Pike Plaza, a 300,000 square foot traditional one-level shopping center on 24 acres, has more than 19 acres as surface parking.

Video via MarylandPlanning

by BethesdaNow.com — February 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm 0

The developer of a 17-story condo destined for downtown Bethesda wants to include space for an art studio long coveted by local officials and art lovers.

Thomas Albert from Chevy Chase-based developer Starr Capital told a Friday meeting of the Woodmont Triangle Action Group that his company will attempt to build a 2,000-square-foot art incubator space on the first floor of the 4990 Fairmont Ave. project on the site of a shuttered BP gas station.

The company plans to piggy back off the progress made by a proposed artists’ space for the 8300 Wisconsin apartment project. That studio never materialized after the original developer backed out and a new one took over.

Bethesda Urban Partnership director David Dabney said the Montgomery County attorney had already signed off on the proposal for 8300 Wisconsin. BUP would likely play a role in managing or promoting the space, which might result in four separate studios for artists.

“We understand this concept was designed and created and legally negotiated in full on the Trillium. We’re going to copy it,” Albert said.

The building would also include 4,000-square-feet of retail space and around 75 luxury condominiums. Albert said the average unit size not including the moderately priced dwelling units (MPDUs) is around 1,500 square feet.

Because of the county parking garage next door, Starr Capital wants to build four levels of parking immediately above the first floor retail and art studio, so residents aren’t looking into a garage.

That could be examined closely at the Montgomery County Planning Board, but Albert said the project and preliminary plans (to be submitted in the next few months) envision a uniform facade all the way up the building so no one notices the garage.

Starr Capital will make another presentation at a March community meeting. At the earliest, groundbreaking would come in late 2014 and the building would be finished in early 2016.

by BethesdaNow.com — February 8, 2013 at 10:40 am 1 Comment

The owner of the DoubleTree Bethesda space once home to the Yacht Club of Bethesda wants to convert the property into a self-storage facility.

Jeff Randall, vice president of asset management for the firm that owns the hotel, says the property’s location and surrounding competition make another restaurant or bar venture too risky.

Randall presented his idea for a self-storage space geared toward residents of downtown Bethesda apartments on Friday morning at a meeting of the Woodmont Triangle Acting Group.

He is hoping for WTAG’s support. The group, made up of residents, business and development representatives and officials from the Bethesda Urban Partnership, advises Montgomery County land-use officials and policymakers on issues in downtown Bethesda.

Randall said he came up with the idea when he moved to the Palisades apartment building near the space, at 8111 Woodmont Ave., where there is also a back entrance to the DoubleTree.

He found one bedroom in his apartment quickly became a de facto storage space for him and his family, as the apartment does not offer self-storage. He estimated just 10 percent of the nearly 600 residents at the Palisades and Triangle Towers could fill the roughly 55 caged storage bins he wants to build in the basement space.

His company would not advertise the facility. All business would come through word of mouth. The facility would provide key cards to customers and would charge $100 a month. Randall envisioned people storing christmas lights, bikes or ski equipment in the cages, which at roughly 50 square feet each would not be large enough for furniture.

“You might frown on self-storage in Bethesda, but I would say this is not your typical self-storage,” Randall said. “Food and beverage there is I think a pretty high-risk endeavor given the location and the competition.”

While members of the WTAG liked the idea, there was a discussion of the zoning issue that remains. Randall must get a zoning text amendment to allow for it, meaning he’ll have to get the Montgomery County Planning Board and the County Council on board with a self-storage facility in a downtown area made up of restaurants, retail and apartments.

The Yacht Club opened in 1989 and closed in 2006 when DoubleTree took over the hotel space. In between, it earned quite a reputation. Owner Tommy “The Matchmaker” Curtis claimed he brought together 181 couples who frequented the venue, known around the area as perhaps the only place that catered exclusively to the over-30 and over-40 crowd.

by BethesdaNow.com — February 8, 2013 at 9:30 am 0

Officials on Thursday presented a revised plan for the $300 million, 40-acre Intelligence Community Campus-Bethesda (ICC-B) at 4600 Sangamore Rd. that largely does away the huge existing surface parking lots in favor of landscaping that architects say will better hold rainwater and better fits into the surrounding forested area.

The new plans were met with widespread approval from nearby residents at a smaller community meeting in November. Before, many in the neighborhoods off Sangamore Road were unhappy with the potential for damage to trees around the facility, how the 3,000-person campus would affect the forest that backs up to the Potomac River and parking.

Thursday’s public presentation at a nearby school showed off architecture firm Leo A Daly’s design that includes new facades for the existing buildings, an L-shaped Centrum building to connect those structures, lots of glass and large swaths of grassy parks and bioretention areas to “create a foreground that is grounded in a much more natural setting,” architect Bill Baxley said.

The Defense Intelligence Agency is taking over the secure campus from the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which moved to Virginia in 2011 as part of Base Realignment and Closure. The redesigned campus is expected to be complete in 2016.

The campus will include a defense university and officials said the new parking garage (already under construction) in the northwest corner of the property will have 1,800 spots. The agency also offers a shuttle service from the nearest Metro stop.

DIA officials don’t anticipate workers or students at the campus would park in neighborhoods or the shopping center across the street, as that would put them much farther away than the garage, which will be connected to the main buildings with a roughly 80-foot walkway.

A new entrance road also on the existing surface lots will have a security checkpoint deeper inside the property, thus preventing cars from queuing on Sangamore Road and moving any necessary car barriers farther from public view.

The garage is scheduled to be complete in July. Crews will start demolition of one of the campus buildings in April. In August, they plan to start foundation work on the Centrum building and in September, they plan to begin planting much of the landscaping on the north side of the campus.

Project designers are still working on a stormwater management outfall study. Officials said they’d like to repair some of the damage done to surrounding area that has been negatively affected by stormwater since the original campus was built in the 1940’s, before stormwater management restrictions.

Renderings via Army Corps of Engineers

by BethesdaNow.com — February 8, 2013 at 8:30 am 0

Construction Of East-West Highway Office To Cause Lane Closure — Construction crews are ready for mass excavation at 4500 East-West Highway, where the McDonald’s was torn down to make way for a new office building. Crews will close the west lane of Pearl Street in the next few weeks. The shot crossing street will become one-way between East-West Highway and Montgomery Avenue. [Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center]

Bike Groups Against State Mandatory Helmet Law — Bike advocates know helmet-use means safer bicycling, but they say a law that would require it being discussed in the Maryland legislature will cause fewer people to ride, perhaps making drivers less aware that bicyclists are out there and causing more accidents. [Washington Post]

Bethesda Art Walk Tonight — The monthly event takes art-seekers through a collection of studios and spaces and will coincide with the opening reception for Gallery B’s February exhibit of local photographers. Reception starts at 6 p.m. [Bethesda Urban Partnership]

Public Hearing On Redistricting, Voting Precinct Changes — The Montgomery County Board of Elections will hold a public hearing from 10 a.m. to noon on March 2 at its Gaithersburg headquarters to discuss realigned voting precincts that are expected to go into effect for the 2014 election cycle. [Montgomery County Board of Elections]

Flickr photo by katharine brainard


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