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by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 1:20 pm 1 Comment

A Bethesda Circulator shuttle in Woodmont Triangle

The Bethesda Urban Partnership on Tuesday launched a new phone app that will provide the location of all buses in the Bethesda Circulator system.

The app, available for Apple and Android devices and at BUP’s website, will give riders of the free shuttle service a better idea of wait times at each stop.

The 2.1-mile, 20-stop bus loop around downtown Bethesda has become increasingly popular since BUP took over operation of the old Bethesda Trolley in 2006. 

Bethesda Circulator bus live locator app, via BUPMonthly ridership on the Circulator surpassed 30,000 trips for the first time in the history of the service in April and increased again in May. BUP said daily ridership was up an average of 30 percent in September 2014 compared to September 2013. The buses average more than 1,200 riders per day.

Riders will now have the ability to know when within the 10-15 minute timeframe the Circulator will arrive at their stop. To download the free Bethesda Circulator  app, visit your smart phone or tablet’s App store and type “Bethesda Circulator” into the search tool.

BUP promotes the service as a way to get to and from Metro but it also hopes people use it as a way to park in less popular parking garages before hitching a ride to activity centers such as Bethesda Row.

BUP officials have received plenty of requests to expand the shuttle route to places such as Battery Lane and Bradley Boulevard. But any expansion relies on increased funding. BUP’s transportation, marketing, beautification and programming activities rely largely on parking fees collected at public garages, lots and curbside meters in the downtown.


by Aaron Kraut — October 21, 2014 at 8:25 am 397 0

Flickr photo by BeyondDC

French International School Could Be On The Move – The Lycee Rochambeau (or French International School) will likely move from its main campus at 9600 Forest Road, near Old Georgetown Road and the Beltway. The school has hired a commercial real estate company to help it look for space to consolidate its three sites. The two others are on Bradley Boulevard and Woodbine Street in Chevy Chase. [Washington Business Journal]

Metro Wants Maryland’s Help For More 8-Car Trains – Metro hopes to have agreement from D.C., Virginia and Maryland officials on a $1.4 billion funding plan to purchase new eight-car trains it says are necessary for easing rush hour subway congestion. With a gubernatorial election ongoing, it’s unclear whether Maryland will support the plan. [Washington Post]

BOE Slammed For Spending $140,000 On Legal Review Of Credit Cards – Some councilmembers are letting the county’s Board of Education have it over $140,000 the body spent on a legal review of its own credit card and expense procedures. The Board paid a law firm the money to do an independent review of controversial credit card use by Board members. Councilmember George Leventhal said “I just don’t think there is any way you can tie a ribbon on the fact that our school board spent $140,000 getting advice on how to stop wasting money and make it look good.” [The Gazette]

Flickr photo by BeyondDC

by Aaron Kraut — October 20, 2014 at 12:00 pm 1,308 1 Comment

Solaire Bethesda rendering, via Washington Property CompanyA chain of full-service restaurants that prides itself on “honest food that tastes really good” is coming to the ground floor of a planned apartment building on Wisconsin Avenue.


True Food Kitchen, the Arizona-based healthy food concept that recently opened in Fairfax, will take up the ground floor restaurant space in the Solaire Bethesda — the 12-floor, 139-unit apartment at 7100 Wisconsin Ave.

The Washington Property Company, which is developing the project on the former gas station site of the Eastham’s Servicenter, made the announcement on Monday.

The restaurant featuresvegan, vegetarian and gluten free meals spanning a variety of food types. There’s a butternut squad pizza, edamame dumplings and turkey lasagna, to name a few options. There’s also plenty of kale and quinoa, plus seabuckthorn and acai berries and juices.

Construction on the project started earlier this year. True Food Kitchen will take up 6,400 square feet.

“We think Solaire Bethesda is the perfect location for True Food Kitchen,” Washington Property Company’s Daryl South said in a prepared news release. “Bethesda is home to the National Institutes of Health and is one of the nation’s most bicycle-friendly communities. We think this exciting restaurant concept will be a magnet for Bethesda’s discerning and health-conscious residents as well as visitors from all over the area.”

The project will include a two-level underground parking garage that will provide some parking for the restaurant.

Rendering via Washington Property Company

by Aaron Kraut — October 20, 2014 at 10:05 am 383 8 Comments

Income per Montgomery County Liquor Store for fiscal year 2013, via Montgomery County Council

A report commissioned by the county’s Department of Liquor Control shows how much money each of the county’s 25 retail liquor, wine and beer stores brought in from July 2012 to July 2013.

The report was made public last week as DLC Director George Griffin appeared in front of the Council’s Public Safety Committee.

Among the recommendations made by the firm that put together the study was one that included closing or relocating the county’s Chevy Chase liquor store at 11 Wisconsin Circle.

The store lost $278,431 in fiscal year 2013, due in part to a poor location and high rent, according to the report. Only Montgomery County is allowed to operate a retail store selling liquor in Montgomery County. Of the county’s 25 stores, Chevy Chase was the only one to lose money in fiscal year 2013.

Griffin told the committee that the DLC will look for a new Chevy Chase location that could be ready to go when the current store’s lease is up in two years.

Others in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area performed much better. The county’s liquor store in the Westwood Shopping Center in Westbard (5432 Westbard Ave.) brought in almost $1.3 million in fiscal 2013, good for the third highest net income of the county’s 25 stores.

The county’s Hampden Lane liquor store in the Shoppes of Bethesda (4920 Hampden Lane) brought in almost $1.1 million, good for the sixth highest net income in the county.

by Aaron Kraut — October 20, 2014 at 9:00 am 404 0

Flickr photo by Aaron Coe

Plastic Surgeon Accused Of Sexual Assault – Chevy Chase plastic surgeon Dr. Hadi Rassael lost his medical license two weeks ago after being accused of sexual assault by two of his patients. The Maryland Board of Physicians suspended Rassael’s license after the two accusations and an allegation that he carried on a sexual relationship with a third patient in which the patient said she loaned him $180,000. Rassael denied the allegations in front of the Board. [ABC7]

Strathmore Shop Around – Strathmore will put on its 25th annual holiday shop around from Thursday, Nov. 13 to Sunday, Nov. 16 in North Bethesda. The event will feature pop-up shops from 20 of the area’s most well known museums, arts venues and cultural institutions, including The Kennedy Center, National Building Museum, Brookside Gardens, International Spy Museum and Shakespeare Theatre Company. Admission is $8 for tickets purchased online and $9 for tickets purchased at the door. [Strathmore]

Developer Gets The Gold – Bethesda-based developer EYA was one of two companies that received a Gold Award in the 2014 National Housing Quality Award program, sponsored by Professional Builder Magazine. EYA is known mostly for its townhome community developments, including on Little Falls Parkway and the planned Grosvenor Heights and Rock Spring Park projects. [EYA]

Flickr photo by Aaron Coe

by Aaron Kraut — October 17, 2014 at 8:25 am 686 4 Comments

Flickr photo by ehpien

Bethesda’s “Thoroughly Mediocre” Restaurant Scene – Washingtonian Magazine food critic Todd Kliman weighed in on what’s missing from the Washington Post’s recent list of best restaurants. What’s not missing is Bethesda, which Kliman wrote has “more than 200 restaurants, none of them great, and at most three or four that you might actually consider for a good meal out with friends.” [Washingtonian Magazine]

Judge Throws Out Tree-Cutting Injunction Against Pepco – A Montgomery County Circuit Court judge on Thursday denied a request from residents in the Potomac Crest neighborhood to stop Pepco from cutting down trees on their properties. Pepco claims it has an easement dating back to the 1950′s that allows them to cut down trees on private property if it’s necessary for electric service reliability. [The Gazette]

Texas Nurse To NIH’s Special Clinical Studies Unit – Nina Pham, the Texas nurse infected with the Ebola virus, arrived Thursday night at NIH’s Clinical Center in Bethesda. She’ll be cared for in the Center’s Special Clinical Studies Unit, one of only a few facilities like it in the country where she will be highly isolated and cared for by infectious disease specialists. [NIH]

Five Announced For Montgomery Business Hall of Fame – Grossberg Company LLP and Monument Bank, founders of the Montgomery County Business Hall of Fame, announced five inductees to be honored at this year’s Oct. 29 event in Rockville. Among the inductees are David Reznick, co-founder of Bethesda-based accounting firm CohnReznick LLP, Dottie Fitzgerald, vice president of Fitzgerald auto mall, and Mark Choe, who owns a restaurant in Takoma Park. [Montgomery County Business Hall of Fame]

Flickr photo by ehpien

by Aaron Kraut — October 16, 2014 at 2:15 pm 210 0

The most recent weekly crime summary includes a scam at a White Flint shopping center, two residential burgalries and more thefts from vehicles:

A scam occurred in the 5100 block of Nicholson Lane in Kensington on Monday, 10/6 at 5:00 p.m. The suspects obtained property from the victim, then fled.

Suspect: Black male, 40-50, 5’7″/145 lbs., short black hair; black male, 50-55, 5’2″/135 lbs., short black hair 

Two thefts from vehicles occurred in the 5700 block of Marinelli Road in Rockville on Wednesday, 10/1 between 1:50 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Forced entry; property taken.

Eight thefts from vehicles occurred between Monday, 9/29 and Wednesday, 10/1 in residential areas during overnight hours. Just about all the vehicles had been left unsecured. Cash, sunglasses, GPS units and other small electronics were taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the 9800 block of Bristol Square Lane in Bethesda on Sunday, 10/5 between 8:40 a.m. and 12:22 p.m. No forced entry; nothing taken.

A residential burglary occurred in the unit block of Town Gate Court in Bethesda sometime over the weekend between 10/3 and 10/6. Forced entry; property taken. The suspect is known to the victim.

by Aaron Kraut — October 16, 2014 at 1:05 pm 659 0

National Institutes of Health

One of two nurses who contracted Ebola in a Dallas hospital while treating a patient there will be transferred to an isolation unit on the NIH campus in Bethesda, NBC News reported Thursday.

According to the Frederick News-Post, the nurse will arrive on Thursday night at Frederick Municipal Airport before being taken to NIH.

The nurse, Nina Pham, was diagnosed with the virus on Sunday after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, who died after contracting Ebola in Liberia.

Pham this week released a statement thanking people for their support and is reportedly in “good” condition. She’s been held in isolation since the diagnosis.

“I’ve spoken with NIH Director Dr. Collins, who has provided assurances that NIH is specifically equipped to handle patients infected with Ebola. NIH has been on the front lines of this issue, and I commend Dr. Collins and his team for their leadership on this urgent challenge,” read a statement by Rep. Chris Van Hollen. “I’m confident that all necessary steps and precautions will be taken to treat this patient and prevent the further spread of the disease.”

In the weeks since the deadly Ebola outbreak began in West Africa, the NIH has prepped for human testing of a possible Ebola vaccine and cared for man who was flown to the U.S. from Sierra Leone with a high-risk exposure to the virus. NIH said the man’s fever passed and was later determined not to be related to an Ebola infection. He was released last week.

by Aaron Kraut — October 16, 2014 at 10:10 am 338 0

Board of Education candidates forum Wednesday in Potomac

With only one scheduled candidates forum left, the eight people up for four county Board of Educations seats on Nov. 4 made clear Wednesday that there are differences in opinion when it comes to some pressing MCPS issues.

Candidates differed on maintenance of effort, disagreed on whether the school system should institute its own inspector general and shared different views on the importance of later start times. Two candidates challenging incumbents criticized the Board and Superintendent Joshua Starr for what many teachers claim has been a disjointed rollout of the county’s new math curriculum.

The non-partisan Board of Education election pits four pairs of candidates against each other for three district seats and one at-large seat. Every voter in the county gets to vote for every board member, no matter the district.

In Districts 1, 3 and 5, incumbents Judith Docca, Pat O’Neill and Michael Durso are facing challenges from Kristin Trible, Laurie Halverson and Larry Edmonds, respectively. With at-large member Shirley Brandman not running for reelection, potential first-timers Jill Ortman-Fouse and Shebra Evans are facing each other for the one at-large seat on the ballot.

All eight candidates attended a forum Wednesday in Potomac hosted by the Whitman High School Cluster PTA.


by Aaron Kraut — October 16, 2014 at 9:15 am 205 0

Downtown Bethesda

Alabama ‘John Doe’ Is Not Bethesda Fugitive – The man the FBI exhumed from an Alabama cemetery is not Bradford Bishop, according to lab tests. Bishop is suspected of murdering his entire family in 1976 in his Bethesda home before fleeing to North Carolina. The FBI put him on its Ten Most Wanted List earlier this year. A tip led to suspicion about an unidentified man killed along an Alabama highway in the 1980′s. The FBI got permission to exhume the man’s body after claiming a strong facial resemblance to Bishop. [WUSA9]

Council Candidate Makes Anti-Semitic Remarks To Reporter – Jim Kirkland, the Republican candidate on the ballot against District 1 Council incumbent Roger Berliner, emailed a Washington Post reporter in February with anti-Semitic remarks about local Jewish residents. The Post revealed the remarks on Wednesday after a county Republican party leader said the group will withdraw all support for Kirkland. In the email, Kirkland wrote that a Jewish couple in his North Bethesda neighborhood filed an anonymous complaint that led to a $500 fine for his mother, who had failed to complete roof work on her home. Kirkland wrote “this amounts to an unacknowledged (Jewish) policy of forcing blue-collar residents out of the county. Sounds harsh? MAYBE IT’S TRUE!” Kirkland ran unopposed in June’s primary. [Washington Post]

Friends of White Flint Looking For New Leader – Friends of White Flint, the nonprofit group of residents, developers and business owners pushing for implementation of the White Flint Sector Plan, is seeking a new executive director. Executive Director Lindsay Hoffman on Wednesday announced she will step down later this year. Hoffman is set to take a full-time job on the staff of incoming Councilmember Sidney Katz. [Friends of White Flint] [Bethesda Magazine]

Westbard Plan Next Step – The next step of the Planning Department’s look into the Westbard section of Bethesda will be a Scope of Work community meeting from 7 p.m.-9 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 21 in the Walt Whitman High School cafeteria (7100 Whittier Blvd.). Planners will present a scope of work for the planning process, which sets the geographic boundaries of the study area, sets goals for the process and sets a timeline. [Planning Department]

by Aaron Kraut — October 16, 2014 at 8:05 am 902 8 Comments

Montgomery County's liquor retail store in Chevy Chase, which a report says should be closed or relocated

The county’s liquor store in Chevy Chase is hemorrhaging money, the truck fleet that delivers alcohol to local bars and restaurants is outdated and typical government hiring practices make distributing alcohol an inefficient and disjointed process.

Those were three of the major findings in a report commissioned by Montgomery County’s Department of Liquor Control, the county agency that’s been under the microscope for much of the past year because of the county’s unique method of controlling alcohol sales.

Unlike nearly every other “control” jurisdiction, Montgomery County purchases its alcohol inventory from manufacturers, stores it in DLC’s Gaithersburg warehouse and then resells the products via direct delivery to beer and wine retail stores and restaurants.

The County Council’s Public Safety Committee will discuss the 95-page “Comprehensive Long-Range Strategic Business Plan,” at a hearing on Thursday morning.

The report, done by Philadelphia-based financial and investment advisor firm PFM Group, recommends better delivery methods, better branding of county-owned liquor stores and the closure or relocation of the county’s failing liquor store in Chevy Chase (11 Wisconsin Circle.)

The store lost $278,431 in fiscal year 2013, due in part to a poor location and high rent, according to the report. Only Montgomery County is allowed to operate a retail store selling liquor in Montgomery County. Of the county’s 25 stores, Chevy Chase was the only one to lose money in fiscal year 2013.


by Aaron Kraut — October 15, 2014 at 1:05 pm 464 0

Bethesda power outage Wednesday, via PepcoThe violent storm that just passed through our area knocked down some power lines and knocked out power for almost 1,300 Pepco customers near Little Falls Parkway.

MCFRS spokesperson Pete Piringer reported power lines down at about 1 p.m. near Little Falls Parkway and Massachusetts Avenue.

Pepco’s outage map indicated 1,287 customers in an adjacent neighborhood are without power.

The estimate restoration time is 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Rain is expected to continue throughout much of the afternoon. There are no severe weather alerts in effect from the National Weather Service, other than a Flood Watch for the entire D.C. Metro area.

Image via Pepco

by Aaron Kraut — October 15, 2014 at 10:00 am 0

Road leading to the historic Grosvenor Mansion

Woman Ordered To Pay Restitution For Stolen Rare Books – Christina Wimmel, 31, was ordered by a Montgomery County judge on Tuesday to pay her neighbor back for thousands of dollars worth of stolen rare books. Wimmel was charged in June with stealing more than $20,000 worth of books and selling them on eBay. [ABC7]

MCPS Savings Are Dwindling – Thanks to a budget plan spearheaded by the Montgomery County Council, a key MCPS savings fund is down to $1.1 million, far less than the amount usually in the fund. The County Council made the decision to use about $38.2 million of the total $39.34 million fund balance as a way to fully fund MCPS’ $2.2 billion budget request while also not going over the minimum funding level required by the state-mandated maintenance of effort law. [The Gazette]

Flood Watch In Effect For Wednesday – The National Weather Service has put most of the D.C. Metro area is under a Flood Watch until 8 p.m. Wednesday. Urban and low-lying areas might be especially prone to flooding from an expected 1-3 inches of rain throughout the day. [National Weather Service]

by Aaron Kraut — October 15, 2014 at 9:00 am 467 3 Comments

Canopy by Hilton hotel coming to Pike & Rose, rendering via Federal Realty

Hilton will debut its new “lifestyle hotel brand” at Pike & Rose in White Flint/North Bethesda.

The 177-room hotel will be one of the first two buildings constructed as part of the second phase of the project, which Rockville-based developer Federal Realty is building on the former site of the Mid-Pike Plaza Shopping Center.

The hotel, called Canopy, is set to open in 2016. It will be one of 11 Hilton Worldwide builds to launch the brand. Other locations include Portland’s Pearl District, San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, Miami’s Brickell neighborhood and a yet-to-be announced site in London.

Known for its shopping centers and mixed-use developments, Federal Realty was seeking a partner in the hotel industry to help build and operate the hotel planned for Pike & Rose.

Federal Realty President and CEO Don Wood said Hilton’s new lifestyle brand fit well with the company’s hope for Pike & Rose.

“We share Hilton’s vision of meeting the evolving consumer demand for socially interconnected places that are authentic and culturally engaging,” Wood said, according to a prepared news release. “Our mixed-use projects such as Santana Row, Bethesda Row, Assembly Row and soon Pike & Rose create new downtown districts within their respective communities where people desire to live, work, dine, shop or stay overnight.”


by Aaron Kraut — October 14, 2014 at 3:25 pm 301 0

Bethesda Metro StationIf you regularly use the Bethesda Metro station you may be eligible to help Metro test new payment methods for its “next-generation fare payment system.”

Metro on Tuesday announced it has started recruiting up to 3,000 riders to take part in the pilot program.

Riders selected will use transit cards, contactless bank cards or mobile wallet apps on their smartphones to ride Metrorail and Metrobus, plus pay for parking at some locations.

Metro will install the new-generation faregates at 10 stations and on six bus routes, including the Bethesda Metro station and J4 bus route that runs from the Bethesda station to College Park.

Customers who regularly travel between Bethesda, Ballston, Eisenhower Ave, Farrugut West, Gallery Place, Navy Yard, Pentagon, Pentagon City, Shady Grove and Suitland could be eligible for the pilot. Metro will test the parking payment methods at Shady Grove and Suitland.

For more information and to apply, see Metro’s page describing the program.


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