Hank Dietle’s owners apply for liquor license

From Bethesda Beat

Hank Dietle’s Tavern, the century-old bar along Rockville Pike that was destroyed by a fire nearly three years ago, could soon be back in business.

The North Bethesda bar’s owners have applied for a class D liquor license, which would allow the business to sell beer and wine on or off site, according to documents filed with the Montgomery County Board of License Commissioners.

A hearing on the license application is scheduled for Feb. 4.

Thomas Bowes, one of the owners, told Bethesda Beat Monday afternoon that he hopes the bar will open by late spring if all of the remaining construction work goes according to plan.

“We’re just moving ahead, trying to get things done,” he said. “All the drywall’s in place, so I’ve got some painting and I’ve got to put floors down and put all the electrical fixtures done.”

The exact timing of the opening, Bowes said, will depend in part on how quickly COVID-19 restrictions are lifted for indoor dining.

Dietle’s suffered a large fire on Valentine’s Day 2018, when a discarded cigarette butt in a flowerpot started a fire that spread and engulfed the building in flames. The bar was 102 years old.

In the years since the fire, there has been a movement to revive Dietle’s from the ashes.

Bowes, a former band booker there; his wife, Sarah Bonner; and photographer Alan Kresse signed a 10-year-lease for the property in September 2019. They have been coordinating construction efforts since then.

A Facebook group called “Hank Dietle’s Tavern Rides Again” posts updates about progress on the bar.

A Jan. 21 post in the group states that drywall and insulation work is done. Finishing the floors is next, it stated.

“We really appreciate the donations of tile, doors, lamps and other miscellaneous items to help the project along,” the post stated. “At some point in the not too distant future we can open up for live bands or at least spilling beer with the jukebox cranking.”

Bowes told Bethesda Beat in the fall that he hoped Dietle’s could open by December, but was not sure how quickly customers would return due to COVID-19 restrictions. Indoor dining at bars and restaurants in Montgomery County has been banned since Dec. 15.

Bowes said Monday that when the bar reopens, the owners will need to work out the parking situation with next-door neighbor Java Nation, whose parking lot is adjacent.

Industrious Brings New Flexible Office Space to Pike & Rose

From The MoCo Show

Industrious – the highest-rated workplace provider in the industry – today announced its plans to open a distinctive new flexible office location in North Bethesda. Located at 909 Rose Avenue and spanning a total of 42,768 square feet, the new shared workplace will occupy the fourth and fifth floors of a LEED Gold-certified building in the heart of one of Washington, D.C.’s most vibrant neighborhoods. Industrious Pike & Rose is scheduled to open in August, 2021 and will provide an alternative to commuting into the city or working from home.

Together with eight additional locations across Arlington, Alexandria, McLean and Capitol Hill, the North Bethesda space brings Industrious’ total Washington, D.C. metropolitan area footprint to nearly 200,000 square-feet. Named the fastest-growing company in the industry by Inc. Magazine, Industrious has signed, opened or taken over more than one million square-feet of new workspace nationwide over the last year.

“The greater Washington, D.C. market is in a new age of demand as enterprise businesses establish their headquarters here,” said Justin Stewart, President and Co-Founder of Industrious. “We launched our first D.C. location in 2018 and have been excited to grow our footprint to meet demand for custom workspaces throughout the greater metro area. North Bethesda fits in perfectly with the hub-and-spoke approach we’re seeing in suburban markets nationwide, and we’re excited to deliver yet more office options to local businesses and their employees.”

Industrious Pike & Rose will join the 24-acre, transit-oriented neighborhood including over 40 tenants of thoughtfully merchandised retail space. The selection of restaurants (including Summer House Santa Monica, Fogo de Chao, &pizza, sweetgreen and Julii), retailers (including REI, Sephora, L.L.Bean and Sur La Table, Uniqlo), a state-of-the-art Porsche dealership, and unique entertainment offerings (iPic Theaters, Pinstripes and AMP by Strathmore) have created a one-of-a-kind retail environment. The neighborhood is fully enhanced by the offerings of 99 luxury condominiums and penthouses uniquely positioned above Canopy by Hilton, a 177-key boutique hotel; 765 luxury apartments; and a 17,000-square-foot rooftop farm. 909 Rose also features a dedicated suite of amenities available to Industrious members that include a fitness center with full-service locker rooms, multiple meeting areas, a café with a lounge and pantry, bike storage, and a Wifi-enabled rooftop terrace.

“As demand continues to grow for best-in-class coworking space in the DC-metro suburbs, Industrious is a welcomed addition to the Pike & Rose neighborhood,” said James Milam of Federal. “The reputation of Industrious, and its high-quality office product to the market is an ideal fit for 909 Rose, our trophy office building, and for business professionals who live and work in our community,” continues Milam.

Industrious Pike & Rose is expected to offer 141 private suites, 11 conference rooms and 18 phone rooms. The building features contactless entry throughout the parking garage, lobby and elevators, and the Industrious space includes a leading HVAC system to meet enhanced health and safety standards. Additional information including building amenities and booking options can be found here. Industrious provides places to work that are safe, comfortable, and private — and are designed around people’s individual preferences and schedules. Around the country, past and present Industrious members include: Cisco, Lyft, Spotify, Heineken, Chipotle, Pinterest, and Salesforce.

A Q & A with Jonathan Pilley of Push-Pull Decorative Hardware

 What did you do to thrive during the pandemic?

We’re pretty fortunate, honestly, that Push-Pull Decorative Hardware is in an industry that saw a surprising surge as the pandemic wore on. In April things were very dicey, and our sales were pretty much cut in half from April 2019, but I think there was just a general sense of uncertainty throughout the world as the full weight of COVID began bearing down on everyone. May turned out to be one of our best months ever; we heard from quite a few clients that since they were home all the time they were staring at all the projects they’d been putting off around the house and figured now was as good a time as any to tackle them. We also had clients with funds earmarked for newly canceled vacations that they decided to put into their home projects instead. As a business we took advantage of the PPP loan and the Maryland COVID relief grant simply because we had no idea how things would shake out as it progressed, but it turns out that the construction/design industry continued to boom throughout.  

What were the special challenges of running Push-Pull Decorative Hardware during the pandemic?

Probably the most unique challenge we had to contend with was how to actually meet with people as the focus of our showroom is letting people touch and feel the door and cabinet hardware. We made the decision to close the show room down entirely from April to July. Because there really wasn’t any slow down in design and construction, we were fortunate that the workload didn’t stop as we worked remotely. In late July we moved to an appointment only model and have been operating that way since, moving in and out of the show room as appointments dictate. Getting the word out to all of our clients (new and existing) also proved to be challenging. We updated our website, outgoing voicemail and made numerous posts on social media, yet there are still some people who show up unaware that we’re operating by appointment only. We try as best we can to accommodate those folks who may show up while at the same time trying very hard to be mindful of the number of people we have in the showroom at any given moment and enforcing a policy of masks. There was also the matter of coordinating shipment deliveries, but luckily we have great delivery drivers who work with us as best as possible.


How do you think the pandemic will affect how you operate long-term?

What’s been the most eye-opening aspect of the entire pandemic is that there’s some flexibility in how we operate the showroom. Our showroom is very much a destination—we don’t count on random people walking in off the street to look at the hardware on display. It’s possible that we stick to an appointment-only model for at least the foreseeable future, relying on the trade (designers/architects/builders/etc.) to refer clients to us to set up an appointment to come in. We’ve also further embraced virtual appointments, providing a way for us to show potential clients around the show room without them having to actually come in. This entire pandemic ordeal has shown the world that a good chunk of its operations can be done remotely to some extent.

Is there anyone or any entity that was particularly helpful to you as you figured out how to operate?

We really leaned on our relationships with and the actions of other showrooms in the industry to see how they reacted. That gave us an opportunity to see how things were working and adapt them from there. Around August or September we noticed many showrooms were opening back up to the public with the same restrictions (masks, six feet apart, etc.), but we chose to stay by appointment only because it didn’t seem as if the situation was improving that much where things would get back to normal that soon.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

It’s pretty apparent that things are still a long ways off from returning to what was previously considered normal. We’re managing the best we can with what we’ve got, like everyone else is, and there needs to be a renewed focus on shoring up the front lines, so to speak. With the new administration, hopefully there’s a more concerted effort to prioritize rolling out the vaccinations to groups like first responders, essential workers and teachers. There are obvious financial ramifications to keeping things shut down from an economic standpoint, but if the focus moved to opening schools as opposed to restaurants/bars then we might find ourselves recovering a bit more quickly. My wife and I, like many others, have spent the better part of the last year doubling as teachers with virtual schooling for our girls, and it’s just really unfair to all the kids that they’ve lost an entire year of their academic careers to something wildly beyond their control. Getting kids back in schools safely gets teachers back in school and more parents back to work. If we all wear masks and work together we can speed up the recovery process.

Bark at the park next month

JANUARY 21, 2021 BY STORE REPORTER 

Looks like the long-awaited Pike & Rose dog park is finally going to open its doors at the end of February. Located just behind Julii and adjacent to the new parking garage, Bark Social will provide off-leash playtime for pooches while their owners eat, drink, work and socialize. (Staffers will even scoop the poop.) With more than 30,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor space, co-owner Luke Silverman says Bark Social will easily accommodate social distancing. He’s selling monthly and annual memberships  ($40 to $285), but canine guests will be admitted for ten bucks — and dogless visitors are always free. “If you’re a human and you don’t have a dog, we’re just like any other bar, restaurant or coffee shop,” Silverman says. “You’ll just walk in, hop on our WiFi, head to the bar, watch a sports game and be surrounded by our community of dog enthusiasts.”

BUN’D UP at The Block

A new take on steamed buns has come to the Pike & Rose neighborhood! Bun’d Up, a popular food pop-up known for their Korean twist on the original Taiwanese “gua bao,” opened at The Block this past Thursday!

Place your carryout orders on their website here

967 Rose Ave, North Bethesda, MD 20852
Monday: CLOSED
Tuesday – Saturday: 12pm – 8pm
Sunday: 12pm – 7pm

If you can handle the Korean spice🇰🇷🌶, our pork belly bun will satisfy your taste buds.😋 Pork belly and pineapple🍍 kimchi topped of with scallions and our cilantro lime sauce. Comment below if you are down for some Asian fusion👇🏼

How Central Farm Markets Thrived in 2020

With help from Montgomery County, Councilmember Andrew Friedson, Governor Larry Hogan, and Federal Realty, Central Farm Markets and its Pike Central Farm Market at Pike & Rose thrived in 2020, despite the pandemic.

Mitch Berliner, owner and founder of the fifteen-year-old Central Farm Market said that other jurisdictions, such as Virginia, closed farmers markets, but Maryland and Montgomery County realized that farmers markets were essential to maintain the local food chain and keep local farmers farming.

Mitch Berliner

“Bottom line, I’m super proud of how we handled the pandemic,” said Mitch. “We put in our own protocols before there were protocols. We enforced mask-wearing before the county did, and our patrons were extremely cooperative. As soon as we opened Pike Central in April and in our Bethesda market, we installed signs reminding people to social distance, eliminated sampling, and had one entrance/one exit to control the number of people shopping at the market. We also added prepared food ranging from Asian to vegan to Ethiopian, helping chefs and restaurants to stay afloat.”

Pike Central also offered contactless pickup and began a “farm-to-fridge” program. With volunteer help from ProFish, they’ve made thousands of deliveries since April.

Because the number of food insecure residents in Montgomery County has doubled during the pandemic, co-owner and founder Debbie Moser and Mitch made a $25,000 challenge gift to Manna Food Center, which farm market patrons generously matched. They also send produce to Manna weekly.

“I didn’t sign up for this as my retirement project; it’s not as much fun during Covid,” laughed Mitch, “but I absolutely love, love, love doing the markets.”

The Pike Central market returns to Pike & Rose April 24, but you can shop at their Sunday Bethesda Central Farm Market all year round.

Watch the Washington Football Team Playoff Game at the Drive-In Theater on Executive Blvd at the Willco Drive-In Theater

From the MoCo Show

DC Party Box will be holding a watch party for this Saturday’s Washington Football Team vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers playoff game.

The game will be played on their big screen at the Willco Drive In Theater located at 6011 Executive Blvd in North Bethesda. Tickets are $12 for adults and $8 for kids and are available at DCPartybox.com. The gates open at 7:45PM and game time is at 8:15PM.

For more information contact:202-922-6696 or info@dcpartybox.com

Lord & Taylor, the Last Remnant of White Flint Mall, Has Permanently Closed

From the MoCo Show:

Lord & Taylor, the Last Remnant of White Flint Mall, Has Permanently Closed

Back in May, we let you know that Lord & Taylor had announced plans to close their location in the former White Flint Mall area.

After months of inventory sales, it appears that this Lord & Taylor location has finally shut its doors for good. The parking lot is empty, this location is no longer listed on the Lord & Taylor website, and google lists the location as permanently closed.

When White Flint Mall first opened in 1977, Lord & Taylor was one of its anchor stores, along with Bloomingdale’s, and I. Magnin (later replaced by Borders Books).

In the mid 2010s, there was a legal dispute between Lord & Taylor and White Flint Mall; Lord & Taylor alleged that plans to redevelop the mall were in violation of Lord & Taylor’s rental agreement. The store was eventually allowed to remain and redevelopment was halted. The mall around Lord & Taylor was demolished and the store was the only part remaining.

https://mocoshow.com/blog/lord-taylor-the-last-remnant-of-white-flint-mall-has-permanently-closed?fbclid=IwAR3ezwDEMxKT_VNWzxcdhCsBafgIu34LkT4a2JsqoDWRCEUcK4r4Jb-JIwY

What Happened to White Flint?

I don’t generally copy a blogpost word for word (it’s just not the right thing to do,) but yesterday’s article from Seventh State by Adam Pagnucco deserves to break the rules. It’s that good. This article ought to be required reading for every resident, business, property owner, and politician with an interest in the White Flint/Pike District area.

Ten years ago, White Flint was regarded as the future crown jewel of MoCo. With a shiny new master plan, a tax district for infrastructure and an assortment of regulatory breaks, the area was supposed to create new high-end high-rises combining office, retail and residential uses that would generate billions of dollars in county revenues over coming decades. Everyone who lives here knows that vision is still largely unrealized. And now a new report by county planning staff lays out why.

First, let’s revisit what White Flint was envisioned to become in its 2010 master plan: a smart growth, walkable mecca around a transformed Rockville Pike which would be transit-heavy and pedestrian friendly. The plan required substantial infrastructure investment including streetscaping, a new road network and a bus rapid transit route. Unlike many county master plans, this one had a mechanism for financing infrastructure: a new special taxing district. Properties inside the taxing district would pay into a fund used to pay for the new infrastructure needed to bring the plan to life. In return, impact taxes were set to zero. The council set an infrastructure project list through a resolution and projects in the district were exempted from county traffic reviews. This combination of high density, infrastructure investment and regulatory exemptions was revolutionary for MoCo at the time and still has not been fully replicated. MoCo politicians love to throw around the word “bold” like peanut shells, but White Flint (now marketed as the Pike District) truly deserved the adjective.

So what happened?

In simple terms, the planning staff describes a negative, self-reinforcing feedback loop that has no identifiable end. The loop functions like this. Low levels of development led to low proceeds for the tax district. It was supposed to raise $45 million in its first 10 years but only generated $12-15 million. Low tax district revenues held back the construction of some of the transportation improvements and other infrastructure necessary to make the area more attractive to investment. Developers seeking financing for projects were hindered by the inadequate infrastructure along with the “prominence of underutilized properties.” One of those properties, the mammoth White Flint Mall site, was tied up by years of litigation. The lack of financing, along with construction costs and market conditions, has held back development. And of course the lack of development holds back tax district revenues necessary to pay for infrastructure, so the cycle continues.

This map from the report shows the vast majority of land in White Flint is underutilized (areas marked in red and orange) relative to its zoning.

The most interesting part of the report summarizes comments from White Flint property owners, who comprise a who’s who list of prominent MoCo developers. First, let’s identify what they don’t complain about. They don’t complain about the plan itself; indeed, they think the area still has potential. They don’t complain about market demographics; they find the wealth and education levels in the area attractive. They don’t intend to sell their existing properties, which generate enough cash to cover operating costs and taxes, but they’re not in a hurry to redevelop them. And not a single one of them complained about taxes or requested a tax abatement.

Here are a few excerpts from the report on their take on White Flint’s problems.

*****

All developers interviewed cited Montgomery County’s limited job growth as a fundamental challenge to continued construction in the Pike District. Low levels of new jobs limit the number of new families seeking to occupy units in the county (household formation), decreasing demand for new development. In addition to limited employment growth, construction costs increased dramatically since 2010, office users occupied less space per employee, and retail demand declined with the rise of online shopping, all factors that continue to reduce demand for or limit the financial feasibility of new development.

Multiple developers noted without providing details that their firm managed to solve issues of high construction costs in other submarkets where there is a higher pace of job growth and household formation, which in turn supports rent growth.

Developers interviewed affirmed that the Pike District is accessible to fewer jobs within a reasonable commute than its peer non-downtown submarkets, and that this reduced access to job centers limits demand for additional multifamily units.

All developers interviewed cited Montgomery County’s limited job growth as a fundamental challenge to continued construction in the Pike District. Low levels of new jobs limit the number of new families seeking to occupy units in the county (household formation), decreasing demand for new development. Developers cited the reduced pace of household formation as a key contributor to stagnant rents, a major concern for the feasibility of future projects.

Several developers independently stated that the attraction of a major employer to the Pike District, such as a life science campus, would significantly increase the feasibility of new multifamily projects.

Developers are not currently willing to build speculative office projects in Montgomery County due to the lack of underlying job growth and the uncertainty about the future of the office sector. Several developers mentioned that they would still consider speculative office construction in Tysons and along the Silver Line corridor, highlighting the continued job growth in Northern Virginia and the contrast with suburban Maryland.

Several interviewees contrasted recent Northern Virginia economic development wins, such as the expansion of Microsoft in Reston, with news that a large distribution center project in Gaithersburg for Amazon is in jeopardy due to delays in the entitlement process. These interviewees stressed that while the number of jobs in these deals is modest, there is a constant drumbeat of positive economic news from Northern Virginia that is unmatched from suburban Maryland.

*****

Let’s boil this down to three words: jobs, Jobs, JOBS. Employment growth was the dominant theme for these developers, but they had a few things to say about business climate and regulations too.

*****

Interviewees related that development projects ultimately deliver equivalent profits as similar projects in neighboring jurisdictions, but that Montgomery County’s reputation as generally “a difficult place to do business” limits developer interest.

Developers agreed that the difficulty of the business environment issue is primarily about perception rather than the ultimate profitability. Interviewees cited as examples a range of policy issues such as a minor energy efficiency tax that Montgomery County leadership presented and implemented as a temporary measure but that never expired.

Multiple interviewees stated that in competitor counties they feel that the entitlement review process is oriented to enabling and facilitating a project, whereas in Montgomery County it feels like an oppositional relationship. Related to this, developers feel the County continually creates new policies and initiatives that adversely affect development, and which ultimately encourages them to focus on assets elsewhere in the region.

*****

The county council and the planning staff are focused on tax abatements as a way to stimulate development, especially housing. But developers in White Flint weren’t complaining about taxes. In fact, tax revenues are NECESSARY to finance infrastructure required to make development happen and function well. It is the absence of tax revenues that resulted in under-financing of infrastructure in White Flint, a key part of the area’s negative feedback loop.

Instead of taxes, the key issue identified by White Flint developers is the absence of job growth, which they believe would stimulate demand for housing and eventually make the economics of housing construction work even with high construction costs. In short: if you want more housing, create more jobs. All of these developers know what we have been saying on Seventh State for years: MoCo has one of the worst records on job growth and business formation of any large jurisdiction in the metro area.

The county’s terrible record on job growth and business formation must be reversed.

All of this points to the need for a strategic decision. MoCo can focus like a laser on job creation, doing everything possible to help entrepreneurs grow their organizations and create employment for residents. If the county does that, the vision of White Flint and other smart growth plans can be realized. Or MoCo can keep handing out tens of millions of dollars in corporate welfare as it has done for decades, thereby depleting its ability to construct infrastructure that facilitates economic growth. Or it can do nothing.

Those are the choices. What will MoCo choose?

An update on the Josiah Henson Museum

You have probably noticed the wonderful new Josiah Henson Museum building as you drive along Old Georgetown Road. The museum has delayed its opening to 2021 due to Covid, but its construction has continued throughout the pandemic.

Here are some images to tide you over until the official opening.

The story of Reverend Josiah Henson, a man enslaved from 1795 to 1830, is one of character, integrity, honesty, and courage. As he grew into adulthood, increasingly trusted with responsibility for other enslaved people, perseverance, difficult choices and survival characterized his daily journey. After experiencing heartbreaking disappointments and unthinkable abuse, his actions grew determined and redemptive. Henson eventually escaped to Canada in 1830, where he established a fugitive slave community called Dawn Settlement and became a minister, speaker and writer. He returned to the United States several times between 1831 and 1865 as a conductor on the Underground Railroad.