One of the few properties along Rockville Pike in White Flint that’s not attached to plans for mixed-use redevelopment has been sold, but don’t expect much to change.
White Flint Station, the one-story shopping center home to local favorites such as Ize’s Deli & Bakery and others such as the Le Tache “lingerie and couples boutique,” was sold to a joint venture including Randall Levitt of the Rockville-based Nellis Corporation and Rockville-based Investment Properties Inc.
Levitt said there are no plans to redevelop the property into the type of mixed-use residential and commercial buildings that are sprouting up (or planned to sprout up) in seemingly every corner of the Rockville Pike corridor.
“Our plan is to likely do a renovation of the shopping center and continue to operate it as a convenience retail shopping center,” Levitt said.
The joint venture purchased the property for a yet-to-be disclosed sum from a Baltimore doctor and Bethesda-based Greenhill Realty, which was managing the property as part of a joint venture.
The shopping center (11610-11620 Rockville Pike) is just north of Marinelli Road and the White Flint Metro station. Behind it is the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center.
Across Rockville Pike, developer LCOR is planning North Bethesda Center, a mixed-use development with a town center, luxury hotel and suspension bridge over the Metro station platform. The developer has already built two high-rise apartment buildings, one of which includes a Harris Teeter grocery store.
Across Marinelli Road, Bethesda-based developer Saul Centers is planning two 300-foot-tall apartment towers and a 230-foot-tall office complex for the site of the existing two-story Metro Pike Center.
Over the last few decades, Nellis Corporation has owned shopping centers in Annapolis, Odenton, Germantown and Gaithersburg, among other locations.
Photo via Google Maps
The most recent crime report for Bethesda, Chevy Chase and North Bethesda includes a 75-year-old charged for aggravated assault and an indecent exposure incident near the Bethesda Metro station:
An aggravated assault occurred in the 7200 block of Arlington Road in Bethesda on Thursday, 8/14 at approximately 6:15 p.m.
Arrested: Male, age 75, from Bethesda
A residential burglary occurred in the 7000 block of Clarendon Road in Bethesda sometime between Tuesday, 8/12 and Thursday, 8/14. Forced entry; property taken.
An indecent exposure occurred in the 7500 block of Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda on Monday, 8/18 at approximately 5:30 p.m. The suspect exposed himself to the victim.
Suspect: W/M, 5’9″/170 lbs., beard
A robbery occurred in the 3700 block of Manor Road in Chevy Chase on Saturday, 8/16 at about 2:30 a.m. The suspect assaulted the victim and removed property.
A theft occurred at a construction site located at 7604 Holiday Terrace in Bethesda on Monday, 8/11 at 11:30 p.m.
Arrested: Male, age 32, from Gaithersburg; male, age 51, from Silver Spring
A residential burglary occurred in the 6000 block of Roseland Drive in Rockville sometime overnight between Friday, 8/15 and Saturday, 8/16. Unknown entry; property taken.
In need of more chilled water and worried about the reliability of the local water supply, the National Institutes of Health wants to build a new set of water storage structures on its 70-acre Bethesda campus.
The “Assure/Expand Chilled Water Capacity” project will be the subject of a public meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 24 on the NIH campus.
As explained in a Federal Register notice on Thursday, the NIH will be required to do an environmental impact statement for the project.
The NIH says its demand for chilled water has “exceeded the design capacity several times during the previous years,” and that the agency “has also become increasingly concerned about the vulnerability of the local water utility system, and the risk of reliably delivering water to the NIH Bethesda Campus infrastructure.”
Chilled water is commonly used in air conditioning systems. According to a capital budget report from the National Capital Planning Commission, the project consists of renovating an existing chiller plant on the campus (one of the largest on the east coast) full of equipment that has been decommissioned.
“These chillers are absolutely essential in providing cooling capability for NIH’s 240 bed hospital, over 1.3 million research animals, three data centers and over 12 million square feet of sophisticated biomedical research facilities,” read the report, which estimated the cost of the project at just less than $83 million.
The NIH has already presented a campus master plan that would mean renovations to a number of older laboratory buildings and the construction of new ones, as well as 3,000 additional employees at the campus over the next 20 years.
The Scoping Meeting on Sept. 24 will include a formal presentation on the project. All comments and questions on the meeting or the project should be directed to Valerie Nottingham, Deputy Director, Division of Environmental Protection at nihnepa[at]mail[dot]nih[dot]gov.
According to the Metropolitan Area Transportation Operations Coordination Program, all lanes were reopened just before 1 p.m.
The accident caused a backup of almost two miles. Montgomery County Emergency Management has advised Alert Montgomery subscribers to find an alternate route.
Photo via TrafficLand.com
Monday will mark the 47th Annual Kensington Labor Day Parade and Festival.
The parade starts at 10 a.m. at the corner of St. Paul Street and Plyers Mill Road and will include local school marching bands, equestrian show groups, floats, people from local religions and nonprofit organizations as well as a bevy of political officials reminding you to vote in November’s Gubernatorial election.
The event is more than just the parade — food and arts vendors will set up on Armory and Howard Avenues during and after the main festivities.
Northbound Connecticut Avenue traffic through Kensington will be diverted into southbound lanes during the parade.
Check out our picks for open houses this weekend around Bethesda.
9916 Dickens Avenue
5 BD | 4.5 BA single family detached
Sondra Mulheron, Long & Foster Real Estate
Open: Sunday, August 31 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
7664 Westlake Terrace
4 BD | 3.5 BA condominium
Michael Wells, Redfin Corp.
Open: Sunday, August 31 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
4405 Chalfront Place
3 BD | 4.5 BA single family detached
Sharron Cochran, W.C. & A.N. Miller Realtors
Open: Sunday, August 31 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
9409 Locust Hill Road
5 BD | 5.5 BA single family detached
Joseph Zorc, Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage
Open: Sunday, August 31 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
The formal master plan process that might allow for massive redevelopment in the Westbard section of Bethesda will kick off with a community meeting on Sept. 23.
The County Council approved moving the start of the master plan rewrite up to this fall after Equity One, which recently bought Westbard’s main shopping center and many of the surrounding properties, made clear its goal to redevelop the area into a more vibrant, mixed-use style community.
Equity One outlined some of its plans in a series of community meetings earlier this year and has hired a Rockville-based public relations firm to help create its Westbard Vision website and coordinate community outreach.
In March, Equity One officials and an architect said they want to create a “signature” main street on Westbard Avenue with pedestrian crossings and upscale retailers to replace the loading docks, driveways and surface parking lots there now.
Equity One is partnering with EYA, a residential developer known for its luxury townhouse communities around the D.C. area, and promised to make an honest effort to keep every existing retailer in its new project.
But in order to make it happen, Equity One must get zoning changes that would come as a result of a new Westbard Sector Plan. Last revised in 1982, it’s the oldest master plan in Montgomery County.
Until Equity One came forward with its plans this year, the rewrite was still low down on the county Planning Department’s work schedule.
The Sept. 23 meeting will be one of many hosted by county planners. It’s set for 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Whitman High School Cafeteria (7100 Whittier Blvd.).
On its Westbard website, planners acknowledge that Equity One “is ready to redevelop” its properties, which include the Westwood Shopping Center, Westwood Towers, Springhouse by Manor Care, Bowlmor Lanes, two Citgo stations and Westwood Center II.
The Westbard Sector includes the area in and around River Road and Westbard Avenue. Planners hope to have the sector plan rewrite delivered to the County Council by June 30, 2015, with the idea that any zoning changes would go into effect by September 2016.
Other key Planning Department dates include a Planning presentation of the Scope of Work on Oct. 21 at Whitman High School, a series of Planning charettes from Nov. 10-14, a Visioning Workshop on Monday, Nov. 10 and a Planning Board public hearing on May 14, 2015.
Photo via Equity One
NIH To Conduct Human Testing Of Ebola Vaccine – NIH announced Thursday that it will begin human testing of a potential Ebola virus vaccine next week at its Bethesda campus. The agency’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) is stepping up the pace of human testing for experimental Ebola vaccines because of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa that has led to the deaths of more than 1,400. [NIH]
WSSC Didn’t Notify All Woodmont Triangle Residents Of Late-Night Work – Some residents of the Triangle Towers apartments (4853 Cordell Ave.) are unhappy after WSSC failed to notify them it would be conducting noisy sewer line replacement work in the middle of the night on nearby St Elmo Avenue. A county Environmental Protection official sent the residents a letter saying WSSC should have informed residents of all three buildings within a 300-foot notification range. The work will continue next week and does not require compliance with the county’s noise ordinance. [Robert Dyer @ Bethesda Row]
County Looking For Input On Goldsboro Road Bike Lanes – MCDOT has revealed its preferred design for a set of new bike lanes and pedestrian facilities on a one-mile stretch of Goldsboro Road between River Road and MacArthur Boulevard. The design calls for a five-foot wide bike lane on the westbound side of the road and a bike lane a half-foot wider on the eastbound side of the road. Contact MCDOT’s Greg Hwang with any comments or concerns. [MCDOT]
State Delegate Arrested In Immigration Protest – District 18 Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez was among the nearly 150 protestors arrested on Thursday in front of the White House who were calling for President Barack Obama to enact immigration reform without Congressional approval. Gutierrez, a Chevy Chase resident, was one of almost 2,000 activists who called on Obama to extend deportation protection to millions of undocumented immigrants. [WAMU]
Flickr pool photo by rzuita rzaba
There’s some good news Thursday afternoon for commuters regarding the emergency paving going on along Connecticut Avenue in Chevy Chase.
State Highway Administration contractors have finished paving all three northbound lanes of the road from East-West Highway to Bradley Lane and all three lanes are open for the time being.
The crews have moved their paving work over to the southbound lanes, where just one lane was open as of 3 p.m. Thursday.
In case you missed it, the SHA announced Wednesday that worse than expected road conditions meant a weeks-long paving operation had to be condensed into just this week. The change and all-day work that accompanied it meant rare lane closures during rush hour periods.
The work is expected to continue through Saturday night, weather permitting, so stay tuned for other closures.
Photos via TrafficLand.com
The Small Press Expo, the annual gathering of independent comic artists, graphic novelists and web illustrators, will mark its 20th year next month in North Bethesda.
All 20 of the events have been held in Bethesda or North Bethesda. On Saturday, Sept. 13 and Sunday, Sept. 14, it will be held for the eighth time at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center (5701 Marinelli Rd.). Before that, it was held each year at the then-Holiday Inn in downtown Bethesda (now the DoubleTree).
The event, organized by the nonprofit Small Press Expo, is a chance for artists of many comic-related and graphic design genres to sell their work, gain exposure and chat with fans and other artists in an informal setting.
A number of symposia are held during the two-day festival, where artists talk about their work.
And for comic and cartoon enthusiasts, the big-name artists slated for this year’s event are in good supply.
Jules Feiffer, a Pullitzer Prize-winning editorial cartoonist and creator of the syndicated cartoon strip “Feiffer,” will be in attendance. So will Bob Mankoff, cartoon editor for The New Yorker, cartoonist Lynda Barry, Charles Burns and Raina Telgemeier.
There will be about 700 artists at 280 tables selling their wares, plus about 20 different interviews and panel discussions.
Tickets are $15 for Saturday, $10 for Sunday and $20 for both days. For more info, visit the event website.
Photos via Small Press Expo
Almost a year after sharrow markings and a shared-use sidewalk were supposed to be added to Woodglen Drive in White Flint/North Bethesda, officials are proposing a cycle track that would be Montgomery County’s first use of the strategy.
In a presentation on Aug. 11 to the White Flint Implementation Advisory Committee, MCDOT’s Patricia Shepherd and Bruce Johnston outlined the project that will likely be seen as an improvement from the previous plan. (For more details on the presentation, see this post from the Friends of White Flint.)
Cycle tracks are seen as one of the most inviting pieces of bicycle infrastructure because the routes include buffers from vehicle parking and regular traffic lanes. As opposed to a marked bike lane, the cycle track won’t be close enough to a lane of parked cars to risk colliding with an opening car door.
The presentation shows two options for the continuation of the cycle track from Nicholson Lane to Marinelli Road, but that portion of the project is likely a few years off as it depends on the proposed redevelopment of the existing shopping center.
The eight-foot wide, two-way cycle track from Edson Lane to Nicholson Lane will be on the west side of Woodglen Drive and be separated from a parking lane by a two- or three-foot wide buffer area that includes plastic posts.
There would also be green-painted pavement to highlight “conflict areas,” where the cycle track crosses intersections or driveways.
Johnston and Shepherd showed photos of an existing cycle track on 15th Street in D.C. that looks very similar to the proposal.
The cycle track would leave Woodglen Drive with space for a seven-foot wide parking lane on the west side of the roadway, a 10-foot wide southbound travel lane, a 10-foot wide center turn lane and an 11-foot wide northbound travel lane.
There would no longer be curbside parking on the east side of the road, which runs past the Rockville Whole Foods location and North Bethesda Market development.
The cycle track would be one of a few bicycle facility improvements to come to White Flint. MCDOT added a bike lane to Marinelli Road and are considering a cycle track treatment for Nebel Street.
Images via Montgomery County Department of Transportation
The age-old question of what to call the place around the White Flint Metro station will be the focus of an event next month set up by the Friends of White Flint, Streetsense and the Montgomery Business Development Corporation.
The open meeting, “What’s In A Name,” comes after years of debate about whether to call the unincorporated, redeveloping area White Flint, North Bethesda, Rockville, something else or some combination of a host of suggestions.
The event is set for Thursday, Sept. 11 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the offices of Streetsense, the brokerage, design and development company based at 3 Bethesda Metro.
Holly Sears Sullivan, president of the MBDC, will facilitate the conversation, which is sure to draw a variety of opinions.
Last spring, a few furious weeks of back-and-forth between the major developers reshaping the area led to a new suggestion from developer Federal Realty: the Pike District, which would contain individual neighborhoods that could keep their preferred identities — such as White Flint around the White Flint Mall property.
Many of the area’s developers (Federal Realty is building the Pike & Rose project at Old Georgetown Road and Rockville Pike) think the White Flint name is too closely tied to White Flint Mall. In June, a collection of some of the area’s biggest developers known as the White Flint Partnership expressed its support for the Pike District concept.
After some objections to the developer group’s lead role in the process, Federal Realty officials said they were slowing the process down and would be pursuing some type of public meeting to get opinions from a wide array of stakeholders.
Next month’s meeting appears to be one such opportunity.
Developers such as Federal Realty contend the area needs one strong, unified brand name to attract retailers and business. The White Flint Sector Plan area has been called Rockville, despite the fact the actual border to the City of Rockville is farther north on Rockville Pike. It’s also been called North Bethesda based in previous planning efforts and according to the area’s main zip code. There’s also the complicating factor of a different zip code — officially Kensington — that actually covers the land of the landmark White Flint Mall, which will be redeveloped into a massive mixed-use, town center.
The event will not address changing the name of anybody’s postal address or neighborhood.
In an email about the event to members, the nonprofit Friends of White Flint said it’s about time the place gets a name.
“For years, we’ve known that this place needs a name,” read the email. “And, we’ve believed that the community should have input into what that name would be. Our opportunity has arrived.”
RSVPs are due by Thursday, Sept. 4 to hsullivan[at]montgomerybusiness[dot]org.
A new Bethesda business is trying to answer the common question of where you should eat tonight with a phone app and some big discounts.
Spotluck, the brainchild of CEO Cherian Thomas and CFO Bradford Sayler, is a phone app that allows users to take one “spin” a day of locally owned restaurants in two sections of town — Woodmont Triangle’s Cordell Avenue and Bethesda Row.
The spin will randomly select for users one restaurant and attach to it a discount that typically ranges from 10 percent to 30 percent off your final bill. The restaurants not selected in the spin will offer discounts typically about 5 percent less, and all the discounts are determined by algorithms that factor in real-time data such as the day of the week, weather conditions, the restaurant’s rating by previous Spotluck customers and other factors.
So the discounts on Monday before 6 p.m. will likely be a lot higher than the discounts on Friday after 6 p.m., when restaurants typically see more traffic and need to fill fewer tables.
If it’s pouring rain or snowing outside, the discounts will inch up. If a restaurant is getting four- or five-star ratings from Spotluck users, the discounts might go down.
It’s an all-in-one deals app, restaurant review app and reservation maker that’s unique from well-known services such as Groupon, Yelp and OpenTable in one very important way — its No. 1 focus is to entice restaurant-goers to Bethesda’s locally owned eateries.
“We market your spot to people above you and around you,” Thomas said. “We’re not telling people in San Francisco, ‘Hey, check out La Panatteria.’ We’re telling everybody here, ‘Don’t forget about them. They’re here, they’re great and they’re local.’”
Thomas, a downtown Bethesda resident, has spent much of the last few months pitching the service to restaurants. Despite the big discounts for restaurant customers, Thomas said Spotluck’s main goal is to drum up business for the restaurant owners and managers who use the service.
Thomas said Spotluck is paid a fee by the participating restaurants based on how much business the app brings in. If a restaurant is fully booked or has a special event, a manager or server can block out the app for that day on iPads that Spotluck provides.
“The merchant is our No. 1 stakeholder. Our success is dependent on their success,” Thomas said. “We don’t perform, they’re not paying. That’s a pretty reasonable value proposition for them. We want to find the minimum discount possible that will get people to go to them. We kind of believe that you shouldn’t have the same prices on a Monday that you do on a Friday, because things are different out there.”
So far, the pitch seems to be catching on.
Passage to India, Brickside, Yamas, Roof, 4935 Bar & Kitchen, Harp & Fiddle, MoMo, Freddy’s Lobster, La Panatteria, and Grapeseed have all signed on to be part of Spotluck’s Cordell Avenue hub.
Town of Chevy Chase Won’t File Purple Line Lawsuit – Town of Chevy Chase Vice Mayor Pat Burda said the Town will not file a lawsuit against the Purple Line but might file a brief in support of the lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail and two Town residents. The Town has spent about $214,000 so far on legal and lobbying fees against the light rail, which the Town is officially opposed to. [Washington Post]
Primary Spending Totals Are In And They Are Large – Marc Korman and Hrant Jamgochian, the two leading non-incumbent candidates in June’s District 16 House of Delegates primary, each spent more than $200,000 on their campaigns. Both financed their campaigns with significant self-loans. Korman loaned himself $69,000 and Jamgochian loaned himself about $150,000, including $30,000 in the days leading up to the primary. Korman won one of three Democratic District 16 nominations along with Bill Frick and Ariana Kelly, who also loaned herself major money for campaign spending. District 16 Senate candidate Hugh Hill loaned himself $50,000 in his losing effort against Susan Lee. [Bethesda Magazine]
School Bus Passing Problem Shows No Signs Of Abating – From January to mid-August, cameras installed on 25 MCPS buses caught about 710 instances of drivers illegally passing stopped buses. The school system and police started the school bus camera program in January to discourage drivers from passing buses with their stop arms out. In a Maryland State Department of Education survey done on one day in May, drivers observed 893 instances of motorists passing stopped school buses. That meant each driver participating saw an average of 1.1 incidents. [The Gazette]
Flickr photo by ehpien
After Chevy Chase environmentalists filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to stop the Purple Line, some of the light rail system’s staunchest supporters are touting how it will help the environment.
In a statement prepared after the news of the lawsuit, Purple Line Now President Ralph Bennett said his group “is confident that this lawsuit will be found to have no merit.”
The Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail and Chevy Chase residents John Fitzgerald and Christine Real de Azua say the federal government hasn’t adequately accounted for two species of amphipods – the small, shrimp-like creatures they say live in seeps along Rock Creek and Coquelin Run that would be degraded or destroyed by the Purple Line.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says there’s no evidence the endangered amphipod species in question lives in the area near the proposed Purple Line route and that there’s no apparent risk to the one known habitat of an amphipod species that’s a candidate for the endangered list.
“Today’s lawsuit typifies the kind of specious claims that have characterized the history of opposition to the Purple Line,” Bennett said. “Despite the assertions of those who filed the lawsuit, the fact remains that there is no evidence that the species exists within the planned route of the Purple Line. The species is only known to exist in a few springs in the District of Columbia, a fact which was substantiated when this past spring, a search in the Montgomery County section of Rock Creek for the amphipod turned up nothing. Furthermore, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the federal agency responsible for protecting endangered species and their habitats, has held that the construction of the Purple Line would have no effect on the amphipod, even if it were to exist in Montgomery County.”
That search in the spring was done by American University biologist and amphipod expert Dr. David Culver, who the Friends of the Capital Crescent Trail hired with $10,000 in funding from the Town of Chevy Chase to do the surveys.
Purple Line NOW (and like-minded groups such as the Action Committee for Transit) are longtime opponents of the Town of Chevy Chase, which is officially opposed to the Purple Line and hasn’t ruled out litigation of its own.
The $2.37 billion light rail system would run from Bethesda to New Carrollton. The Maryland Transit Administration hopes to select a private concessionaire early next year to design, build and operate the system and start construction late next year. The goal is to complete the project by 2020.
Bennett goes on to say the environmental benefits of the Purple Line “far outweigh any potential harm.”
“The Purple Line is supported by countless environmental groups including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Clean Water Action and the League of Conservation Voters,” Bennett said. “The Sierra Club even went so far as to name the Purple Line as one of the 25 best transportation projects in the United States in 2012. The Purple Line will provide tangible environmental benefits in the form of reduced greenhouse gas emissions and automobile trips, and feature sustainable design elements such as green tracks, green buffers and planter boxes to reduce stormwater runoff and heat gain.”