Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone! Here is the Christmas tree at Union Station in Washington, DC




Friday, December 22, 2023

The old Marriott HQ is demolished

The demolition of the old Marriott headquarters in the Rock Spring area of Bethesda, MD has been going on for months, with the construction fencing first going up in February.  This campus will be replaced by a senior housing community.  Above is where the main entrance to the Marriott campus was, the building used to dominate this view, now all you see is the sky.
December 22, 2023

This is the view from the south looking north.  The building in the distance is the HMSHost building right along I-270.


December 16, 2023
Here is a similar view from December 16th, just about a week ago, there was still a small shred of a building left then.  The HMSHost building is in the distance on the left.


December 22, 2023
Here's the view from the north looking south-west. The building in the distance on the left is Democracy Plaza and the one on the right is Embassy Suites.


December 16, 2023
Here's a similar view from the 16th, just the corner of the building remained then and you could see sky through the windows.  The building in the distance is Democracy Plaza.




Wednesday, December 20, 2023

Seen at Great Falls, MD


High above the C & O canal near Great Falls Tavern is this stone.  Two peoples names are carved into it. C. J. Isackson and Olga Anderson.  Along with that is carved N.D.  It was obviously inscribed long ago because the lichens growing on the rock also grow into the engraved initials. The sun is at a low angle this time of year which really makes the letters stand out.




Monday, December 18, 2023

Damage to The Rae already


The Rae apartments across from Montgomery Mall haven't been open very long, but someone has already had a bit of trouble navigating the parking garage.  I'm not sure if they were actually trying to get in the garage or just turning around in the driveway, but, they took a chunk out of the ceiling right at the entrance.







Sunday, December 17, 2023

Burned cars at the post office


I don't go to the post office very often, but it's the holidays so I found myself at the Westlake post office next to the Home Depot and Montgomery mall.

What to my wondering eyes should appear, but two burned cars in the parking lot. I don't know how long they've been there, clearly it hadn't just happened.  It looks like the fire started in the engine compartment of the gas-powered car in the back and spread to the car in front of it.  It must have sucked for both people, bad enough that your car catches on fire, but even worse to be the collateral damage.

Here's a closer view of where the fire originated. It totally destroyed the interior of both cars too.


Here's another view, this time without so many cars around.


Sunday, December 10, 2023

More new roads at the Amalyn development


Renita Lane

I last posted about the Amalyn housing development back in June, when they were preparing a new section of the field for houses.  They've been busy since then and as of the end of November, that part now has paved roads.

The existing Renita Lane now continues well into the Amalyn development in Bethesda, MD. It will eventually connect to Greentree Road but it doesn't yet.

Bluestar Ave

Amalyn will have over 300 new residences and will have a mixture of townhouses and single family houses.  Here you can see a newly-paved section of Bluestar Avenue where it connects to the existing paved portion.  A few rows of townhouses are under construction.

Bluestar Avenue at Azure Alley

This is a large section of the field that is now paved and ready to build on, maybe a third of the total area and over half of what was remaing. The only part left is the south-western end where the 5 acre MCPS donation is. 

Azure Alley looking towards Lantana Way







Thursday, November 16, 2023

Old Marriott HQ demolition update


 A little over a month ago, I posted that the demolition of the old Marriott Headquarters in the Rock Spring area of Bethesda had started. I checked on it and they are continuing to make slow progress.

 There is lots of activity going on with multiple pieces of heavy equipment working, but right now it looks like they are moving demolished metal around and cutting beams down to more manageable sizes.

 Here's a view of the area, this is right behind the entrance to Democracy Plaza.


 I also took a short timelapse so you can get a better idea of what is happening there.

Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Fixed! Lane markings on Fernwood Rd


Last Friday I posted about "Confusing lane markings on Fernwood Road" (at the intersection with Democracy Blvd). After I did, I posted about it on Mastodon (A Twitter/X alternative)  and tagged Montgomery County Department of Transportation. They responded and said they'd look into it.

 Last night I drove by and noticed someone had spray-painted a left-turn only lane in the middle lane and put black paint over a right-turn only one.  I have no idea if it was MCDOT or a local resident.

 Today, however, I got some really good news.  the MCDOT mastadon account replied to me and told me that the traffic operations team had corrected it!  The arrows on the traffic lights match the pavement markings

This is great in so many ways, let me just list a few of them

  • when alerted to a safety issue they quickly corrected it
  • They make it easy for residents to contact them
  • They are listening to feedback from residents
  • They are using Mastodon, an open-source, federated twitter/X like services that isn't controlled by any single corporation.  I've been using it in preference to Twitter for a while now and when I put up a new post here I announce it on Mastodon before announcing it on Twitter (and sometimes I only announce it on Mastodon).

Go MC-DOT! Go Montgomery County! Go Mastodon!


 You can see the hand-painted left turn only arrow as well as the new, more professional left turn only arrow.  If you zoom in you can kind of see where they removed the old one.

The new right turn only arrow in the right lane and the new left turn arrow in the middle lane. In the left lane you can see the long-existing left turn only arrow.






Sunday, November 12, 2023

Do you want speed bumps on Greentree Rd in Bethesda?


Do you live near or drive on Greentree Road in Bethesda, MD?  If so, you might be interested to know that the county is considering putting speed bumps in on the portion between Old Georgetown Road and Fernwood Road.

         On Tuesday, November 14, 2023 at 6:30 pm (that's really soon) there is going to be a zoom meeting about it. I don't know anything else about it and I couldn't find a web page with more information, so you'll have to call or email Lindsay to find out more.


 Here's another picture of the same sign, but from a more artsy angle. I have to say that is a really nice sign, all metal and reflective. I really hope they can change the words and re-use the sign instead of it being single use.





Thursday, November 9, 2023

Confusing lane markings on Fernwood Road


Northbound on Fernwood Rd at the intersection of Democracy Blvd there are some very confusing lane markings.  This area is in the process of being upgraded so hopefully this will get cleared up soon.  Can you see the cause of the confusion? Let's examine it a bit more closely.

Here are the lane markings. You can see, the left lane is left turn only and the middle lane is marked as right turn only. (Not shown is the right lane, which doesn't have any markings about it being an right turn only lane at all).


Here are the traffic lights at the intersection, The left lane and the middle lane are left turn only and the right lane is right turn only.  This contradicts the markings on the road which says the middle lane is right turn only.

As a result, no one knows what to do and generally isn't using the middle lane. That's too bad because one of the goals of this intersection reconstruction is to make traffic flow faster by having two left turn lanes where there had only been one.

I have posted about this intersection before. I also posted before the intersection improvements started which you can look at if you want to see what it used to look like.







Saturday, October 28, 2023

Mazza Gallerie is Gone


 For some reason, when I heard that they are keeping the retail pavilion at Mazza Gallerie, I assumed it was an above-ground portion of the mall, but apparently that isn't the case.  The whole building has been removed to ground level, only a swoopy canopy where an entrance was remains.


It gives the area an unusually open feel, you can see bloomingdales from over a block away.


Behind the site you can see Chevy Chase Pavillion and the Cheesecake Factory.


When they are done, the site at 5300 Wisconsin Avenue NW, right on the border of Maryland and D.C. will have a 7 story residental building with 325 apartments.




Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Old Marriott HQ demolition


The old Marriott Headquarters
Back in February they put up construction fences around the old Marriott HQ headquarters in the Rock Spring area of Bethesda, MD.  Since then, visible progress has been slow.  They've done some demolition on the north side, but nothing too dramatic.  I think they have been clearing out the interior of the building.


 Now, on the south side, some very visible demolition is occurring. They have removed the facade from part of the building leaving the bare interior visible. There are piles of sorted demolition debris waiting to be recycled.


Exterior demolition and a dumpster



Monday, October 9, 2023

The Astrid apartments construction


Both towers of the Astrid


The Astrid, an apartment complex being built next to the Pooks Hill Marriot is nearing completion.  Somehow, it has managed to get to this point without me posting about it.

The site is located on the north side of Pooks Hill Road next to the Pooks Hill Marriott and close to Interstate 495. It is also less than 1.5 miles from the Grosvenor-Strathmore metro station. Prior to this construction, the site had a surface parking lot that was overflow for the Marriott.


The Astrid apartments as seen from the Marriott parking lot

The latest site plan (pdf link) I can find is from 2020 and called for 510,000 square feet of space across two buildings that have a maximum height of 137 feet. There will be 562 units in total.

The view of the Astrid if you were going east on Pooks Hill Rd.


The apartments are on a hill, so there is a large retaining wall at the front of the site.



Saturday, October 7, 2023

Taste of Bethesda was today

 Taste of Bethesda made it's triumphant return to the Woodmont Triangle area of Bethesda on October 7th 2023.  The day started off rainy and cloudy, but by the start of the festival the rain had stopped.  By early afternoon the sun was poking through the clouds eventually being sunny and breezy.


Spanish Diner was there and served up chicken Paella all afternoon. They (and Jaleo before them) have long participated and make paella in a huge pan.

This is the first Taste of Bethesda post-covid. the event was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 because of the virus, then in 2022 the weather put the kibosh on the festivities.

It was crowded there and popular food stands had long lines, but everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.


Tout de Sweet served up a variety of macarons and pastries. This one was made with pistachio and was a bit greener than it looks in the photo.






Tuesday, October 3, 2023

8015 Old Georgetown Road construction progress


8015 construction as seen from Old Georgetown Road

Progress on the apartments at 8015 Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda, MD has continued. A lot has been done since my last update in June, but there is still much to go.

When complete, the building will contain 224 units and up to 82,270 square feet of commercial density for 73 live/work units and shared commercial space. Find out more at the planning board (pdf link).

The corner of Old Georgetown Rd and Glenbrook Rd

 The 2.52 acre site is along  Old Georgetown Road, Glenbrook Road, and Rugby Avenue. The property was formerly occupied by Christ Evangelical Lutheran Church. The church and related buildings were demolished in March of 2022. (see also this and this).

The construction from Glenbrook Road


Looking at the 8015 Old Georgetown Road construction from the Auburn-Del Ray parking garage.

The construction as seen from a nearby parking lot.




Monday, October 2, 2023

4909 Auburn construction

 Construction has really progressed since my last update in April. Then there were just two stories above ground, now there are about a dozen. Another thing that has changed is the project now has it's own website promising "timeless, Scandinavian inspired interiors". The apartments will be available in mid 2024.


The building towers over it's neighbors.  The lower floors are starting to get covered up, but the top floors have a way to go.


The main part of the building fronts Auburn Avenue in Bethesda, MD (no surprise there). It is near the corner of Auburn and Norfolk, with just the small building containing V Nails, Cornucopia, and Jack the Clipper next to it.


Along Auburn Avenue, the lane adjacent to the construction is closed, but there is still two-way traffic along the block.


From the top floor of the parking garage across the street, you can only see the top five floors.


There is one entrance on Norfolk Avenue, this used to be the entrance to the parking lot for the Auburn Professional Building, now it will contain a retail storefront.