REI Moving from Rockville to White Flint in April
REI, the outdoor sports store at the southern edge of Rockville at 1701 Rockville Pike, has announced it’s moving south about 1500 feet to become part of the new Pike & Rose mega-shopping center/experience in White Flint. With the loss of Sports Authority and Hudson Trail Outfitters in recent years, this neighborhood’s remaining sports stores are smaller specialists: Revolution Cycles, Performance Bicycle, and Road Runner Sports. REI has announced the following schedule:
- March 18, 2017: Garage Sale
- April 15: Last day accepting shop work
- April 23: Last day in Rockville
- April 25: Opening at Pike & Rose in White Flint
- April 28-30: Grand opening events
Competition for tenants along the Rockville Pike continues to intensify as the internet becomes a more popular place to shop and customers seek more interesting and engaging experiences. The simple stripmalls that line Rockville Pike will be with us for a while but the richer social environments of Pike & Rose and Rockville Town Square will be more attractive gathering places. JBG‘s efforts around the Twinbrook Metro Station is expected to follow this new model, however, it seems that development has stalled for the last year and doesn’t have sufficient gravity to attract a sustainable customer base (Terano and Galvan, the last major projects, opened in 2015).
How Will County’s Plans for Bus Rapid Transit Affect Rockville?
Plans for a BRT (bus rapid transit) system in Montgomery County will affect Rockville in two ways: Rockville Pike (Clarksburg to Bethesda) and Veirs Mill Road (Rockville to Wheaton). On Wednesday, September 28 from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, the Maryland State Highway Administration will hold a public meeting in the cafeteria of the Montgomery County Executive Office Building (EOB), 101 Monroe Street in Rockville. Parking available in the garage underneath the EOB. The meeting will provide information and gather public comments on the alternatives for BRT service between Rockville and Wheaton. The proposed MD 586/Veirs Mill Road BRT Corridor Study extends approximately 6.7 miles from the Rockville Metrorail Station to the Wheaton Metrorail Station in Montgomery County, Maryland. This study also includes the extension of enhanced bus service from the Rockville Metrorail Station, north in mixed traffic along MD 355, an additional 1.5 miles to Montgomery College. There will not be a formal presentation, so you can drop by anytime to learn about the alternatives, operations, environmental impacts, and cost estimates from representatives from both the county and state departments of transportation. A draft of the recently completed Continue reading →
Rockville Pike Traffic Solutions Appear Confusing, but 252′ Width Seems Right
On Monday, May 9, the Rockville Mayor and Council will continue its worksession on “Rockville’s Pike Neighborhood Plan.” Along with building heights and pedestrian crossings, traffic congestion is a major controversy and the conversation has become terribly confusing: widening or narrowing the road, keeping or eliminating the access roads, extending adjacent roads, increasing Metro service, and incorporating bus rapid transit (BRT). Some of these solutions are beyond the control of the City (such as Metro service), some benefit one group versus another (such as businesses or nearby residents), and others are so expensive or far in the future that their feasibility is unclear (such as the BRT). What’s become incredibly confusing are Continue reading →
New 24-hour Safeway Opens in Twinbrook
A new Safeway grocery store opened this past week at 1800 Rockville Pike across the street from the Twinbrook Metro and part of the Galvan at Twinbrook Apartments. It will soon be joined by Smashburger, Shobha (hair salon), Floyd’s 99 Barbershop, Dunkin Donuts, Pie 360 (pizza), Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, and Ethan Allen. The new Safeway enriches a corridor of grocery stores within a half-mile of each other, including Fresh Market, Trader Joe’s, Target, Giant, and My Organic Market (MOM).
On-street parking is limited and metered (free on weekends) so most people will prefer parking in the underground garage via Bouic Avenue, where the first two hours are free (this location is adjacent to Metro, so nearby parking is always restrictive). There’s another entrance for underground parking on Chapman, but that’s for the apartment residents.
There’s usually not much to say about the opening of a new Safeway store because they’re so common across America with the usual produce, meat, seafood, bakery, deli, pharmacy, florist, salad bar, sushi, and Starbucks but this one has a few differences that might interest you:
- open 24-hours every day. Security guards were posted at the entrance and in the garage this morning; not sure if this is temporary or permanent.
- a new layout with fresh produce along the entire front of the store. I understand they want to have the fresh stuff up front but it’s not an efficient circulation pattern for customers.
- special sections for Kosher, gluten-free, and organic foods. A Kosher Chocolate Factory will be at the store on Sunday, December 13 at 3:30 p.m., suggesting they may be offering special events throughout the year.
- bulk sale of nuts, seeds, grains, and more. Available loose so you can buy as much or little as you need.
- some aisles, particularly those with small items like medicines, have lighting on individual shelves to increase visibility.
- a room with tables and chairs near the entrance for customers to talk over coffee or use wifi. Not sure why it’s called the Hungerford Room–it’s no where near Hungerford. Halpine, Montrose, or Twinbrook would have been more appropriate.
- a Team Room selling shirts, mugs, and souvenirs from local professional sport teams.
- no beer or wine sales, due to the crazy restrictions of Montgomery County. You’ll have to go to Olney if you want to buy beer and wine in a Safeway.
It seems that the half of the employees have been re-assigned from other Safeway stores and the rest are new. And while this Safeway store has just opened, the store on Randolph Road and Parklawn recently closed and the one on Veirs Mill in Twinbrook will close soon.
For other related news, see:
- “Brand New Safeway Opened in Twinbrook” in Rockville View (December 9, 2015)
- “County’s Largest Safeway opens on Rockville Pike in Montgomery Community Media (December 9, 2015)
- “Safeway Plans to Open in December near Twinbrook Metro” in Bethesda Magazine (November 13, 2015)
- “Safeway-Anchored Project by Twinbrook Metro Ready for Ground-breaking” in Washington Business Journal (September 26, 2013)
Rockville Candidates Missing the Forest and Trees for the Rocks
Last week, I received the following email message from Joe Jordan, who is closely associated with Bridget Newton‘s election campaign:
Max, there have been at least two occasions where Clark Reed has been seen wearing a handmade name tag that reads “Rockville City Council – Clark Reed”. It was pointed out to him at the MPT showing on Friday, yet he wore it again at RTS on Saturday. Recalling two years ago, I recall how you were concerned about integrity and propriety and following election guidelines, and while nametags may not be covered under them, I am sure you can see how misleading his nametag can be.
Can I be confident in the fact you will bring this to his and Sima [Osdoby]’s attention, and ask that, at a minimum, he and all slate candidates use the wording “candidate for” if they are not incumbents.
Thanks for your attention to this important matter.
Mr. Jordan is correct that name badges are not specifically addressed in Rockville’s election code (although it addresses nearly everything else: “any pamphlet, circular, card, sample ballot, dodger, poster, advertisement or any printed, multigraphed, photographed, typewritten or written matter or statement or any matter or statement which may be copied by any device”) and that I value transparency, honesty, and accuracy in government (and in business and personal relationships). I’ve passed his message onto the candidates of Team Rockville, but just to clarify, each candidate that is part of the Team is responsible for his or her own campaign (I don’t manage individual campaigns, just the Team’s; and this blog is mine, not the Team’s).
More important, though, I am growing increasingly concerned with the topics deemed important in this election. Richard Gottfried sent out the first campaign mailer of the season and accused his opponents of associating with “fat cat developers” without providing any evidence. On the Twinbrook Listserv a couple weeks ago, Brigitta Mullican complained about the inaccuracies in my blog post (I said Beryl Feinberg worked in the county’s office of management and budget) and that she wasn’t allowed to post comments, then recruited Beryl Feinberg to pile on:
Continue reading →
The Rockville Pike Plan Is Out of Control
When the Rockville Mayor and Council set out to update the 1989 Rockville Pike Plan in 2007, Apple released the first iPhone and the New Horizons space probe was passing Saturn. In 2015, Apple is working on the iPhone 6s and New Horizons just passed Pluto–but the Rockville Pike Plan is still incomplete. It’s a complex area but something is definitely wrong with the planning process in the City of Rockville if it takes eight years to revise a plan for an area of 410 acres. What happens when Rockville tackles the Comprehensive Plan for the 14 square miles of the City of Rockville? Will it meet the state deadline to update that plan every ten years?
When you look at the timeline for the project, it’s pretty clear that the Pike Plan is languishing with the Planning Commission. A closer looks shows they’ve held six public hearings, 32 work sessions, and formed two sub-committees and they’re still not done. In contrast, the Mayor and Council have held five public hearings and one work session. Looks like the Planning Commission is suffering from “paralysis by analysis.”
What is extremely puzzling is that the Planning Commission is taking as much time or more than Continue reading →
Rockville City Council Lowered Building Size on Pike in 1988
As we’re contemplating a new Rockville Pike Plan, it’s always useful to step back in time to see how decisions were made in the past and created the community we live in today.
In 1988, the Rockville Mayor and Council dramatically lowered the height of buildings along the Rockville Pike, rejecting the advice of the planning commission for improving the “traffic-choked corridor.” After six years of study (sound familiar?), the Planning Commission recommended reducing the maximum building size from 200,000 square feet (sf) to 35,000 sf for a 100,000 sf parcel but would allow up to 300,000 sf (a bonus) if developers provided certain community amenities, such as pedestrian bridges, plaza areas, and day care centers. The City Council accepted the lower size but rejected the bonus, effectively decreasing the size to one-sixth of what was currently allowed. Mayor Doug Duncan believed it would, “keep the retail strength of the plan. . .large office buildings [are] not in the interest of the community.” Planning Commission Chair Richard Arkin countered that “without the bonus system, the plan would lead to more small, unattractive shopping strips and few of the kinds of amenities that could transform the pike into an attractive road that is accessible to pedestrians.” Now that 25 years have passed, what was the result of their decisions? Who was more prescient?
If you’d like to learn more about this topic, read the entire story, “Building Curbs Supported for Rockville Pike” from the April 28, 1998 issue of the Washington Post.
Rapid Transit on the Rockville Pike?
Rockville is a key link in the effort to improve transportation from Friendship Heights to Clarksburg. Everyone complains about the traffic, but what can be done about it without building more highways through our neighborhoods? Join residents, local businesses, organizations, and community leaders to learn about the County’s Rapid Transit proposal, get your questions answered by County officials, and engage in a discussion about Rapid Transit and other solutions for turning 355 into a safe, efficient, and attractive boulevard of the future. This is related to the Rockville Pike Plan, so if you’re following that project, you’ll probably be interested in this as well.
Thursday, October 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm in the Cafeteria of the Executive Office Building, 101 Monroe Street in downtown Rockville. Metered parking on the street; free parking in the jury parking lot at Jefferson and Monroe.
- Casey Anderson, Montgomery County Planning Board
- Larry Cole, Montgomery County Planning Department
- Chuck Lattuca, Rapid Transit System Development Manager for MCDOT.
Refreshments will be served.
If you are interested in attending, please register in advance.
This event is co-sponsored and facilitated by Coalition for Smarter Growth and Communities for Transit. Our co-hosts include Montgomery County Sierra Club, TAME Coalition, the White Flint Partnership, and Friends of White Flint.
Rockville Candidates Forum #3
I had a chance to attend my first city council candidates forum today, which I think is actually the third of more than a half dozen. If you missed it, don’t worry, you have plenty of opportunities coming up (including two this upcoming week that will be broadcast).
Today’s forum was held in the senior center and hosted by the neighborhood associations for College Gardens, Woodley Gardens, and Plymouth Woods and moderated by Cheryl Kagan. All the candidates were seated in a single row, barely fitting on stage, and about 60 people attended, mostly senior citizens. Unlike some neighborhood forums that focus exclusively on their parochial issues, this one ranged widely around Rockville, including such topics as Rockville in ten years, budget and finances, the APFO, Rockville Pike Plan, the fence separating Montgomery College, the city logo and branding, qualifications of the next city manager, relationships with other government agencies, relations with city staff, the proposed Walmart, and an assessment of the city’s website. Perhaps the most provocative question was, “which candidate do you oppose in this election and why?” I won’t provide a detailed report on everyone’s statements–I’ll leave that to the Gazette or you can watch the 2+ hours of it on YouTube–but will just give general impressions and highlights.
It seems that the candidates are beginning to solidify their statements and finding ways to Continue reading →
A Very Long HDC Meeting
Last Thursday the Historic District Commission held its regular monthly meeting and if anyone was watching to the end, you may have noticed that the clock was nearing midnight. We usually try to finish at 10 pm but we had an ambitious agenda, including:
1. A joint meeting with the Environment Commission, which included three Planning Commissioners. The City has about two dozen commissions and boards but they rarely, if ever, talk with each other, even if they share some common goals or are tackling the same issue. This past year the HDC has requested meetings with other commissions but it’s been slow because finding mutual agreeable times is difficult and sometimes, I regret to say, the Chair of the other commission refused to respond to emails or phone calls to meet (what’s that about??). So far, we’ve met with the Planning Commission and this month with the Environment Commission. These meetings are just an hour so no decisions are made, but they provide introductions and we learn a bit more about each other to discover areas of mutual interest. It’s obvious that the Environmental Commission and the HDC both want to encourage Continue reading →