Category Archives: Latest News

Happy New Year Bethesda

Dear readers,

I just wanted to take a moment to wish you and your loved ones a Happy New Year!

I have noticed that many pundits, writers etc. have marked the change from 2016-2017 by noting how terrible the last year was and how relieved they are to move into 2017.

My take is slightly different. It is true that there were elections both in the US and around the world that seemed to be filled with negativity but, hidden in plain sight, so many positive things happened last year. Many of these are global and big picture in nature – US carbon emissions dropped, a ninth planet was discovered and Colombia moved closer to peace.

But, in some ways, of equal significance were the millions of positive things that happened much closer to home.

Let me give you three with a local twist:

1. At a local and global level – Bethesda’s NIH started Zika vaccine trials and showed an ability to assist infected people.

2. Bethesda’s Katie Ledecky dominated the Rio Olympic games.

3. Bethesda Green and Bethesda Magazine awarded prizes to groups of individuals and businesses for their contribution to greening our community.

Please email me your thoughts on the best things that happened in 2016 – from the personal to the local to the global.

We will feature the best ones – my email, as ever, raj@rajabout.com

 

 

Bethesda Chocolates is Amazing

Friends,

Make yourself very popular this season and dash over to Bethesda Chocolates as quickly as you can.

I was fortunate enough to attend the pre-launch event this weekend and sampled a host of delightful, decadent morsels of wonderful sweet goodness!

Thinking quickly (which is not easy when you are drinking the best hot chocolate this side of the Sofitel) I snaffled a lot of terrific Christmas presents for friends and family + a selection of truffles and other goodies for Christmas day.

Hurrah and well done Bethesda Chocolate – looking forward to getting my chocolate fix via your store for years to come!

PS They are in soft launch mode at the moment (staffing up etc) and I believe that will be fully open at the turn of the year but they are open at the moment so enjoy and let me know what is your favorite nibble – email me at raj@rajabout.com

 

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Nazi symbols in the Bathroom and the End of the Work/Personal Life Divide

Dear readers – the following piece is more sobering and serious than many of our usual posts but in light of recent stories from Bethesda area schools I thought it necessary. Please feel free to email me with thoughts at raj@rajabout.com. I should note, for the record, that these comments are in my individual capacity (as ever) and should not be attributed in any way to any organization I am affiliated with (be that in real estate, academia or otherwise). Thank you!

Nazi symbols in the Bathroom and the End of the Work/Personal Life Divide

In the days since the conclusion of the 2016 Presidential election, the country has been roiled by emotion. From unconfined joy to utter despair, supporters of each candidate have reacted in ways that reflect the polarized, winner take all nature of our current body politic. Much of that is to be expected and understood, the stakes were high in this last election and the competing visions seemed worlds apart.

What has caught many off guard, although warning signs were there during the campaign, has been the sharp spike in racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic incidents in the days since the polls closed. Stories of despicable behavior are being shared with every increasing frequency. From school children targeting Latino classmates with chants about deportation and slurs being aimed at Indian Americans pumping gas, to Nazi symbols daubed on places of worship and cruel targeting of LGBT youth, there is a sense that decency has lost at the ballot box.

Unfortunately, at time of writing, the President elect has added fuel to the fire by picking a leader of the US Alt-Right movement as his senior White House advisor, a fact that is as disappointing as it is unsurprising. Elections have consequences is an old adage but the more important one is that great leadership brings with it great responsibility, and we must all hope, though perhaps not rely on, that lesson being eventually grasped by the next President.

Without leadership we have a vacuum. And that is really what I wanted to discuss in this post. What this election and its aftermath has started to bring into sharp relief is that it will be hard to put the genie of decency back in the bottle. When Nazi symbols are being daubed on the walls of Westland Middle and Burning Tree Elementary in Bethesda, it is past time for the community to react. We all must speak out publicly and unreservedly to condemn these actions and those who perpetrated them. More than that, we need to demand that all stakeholders recognize the new realities we are facing and develop tangible plans to unite our community against the hatred and intolerance that has been unleashed.

While I hope and believe that these steps can be taken, let me be clear, it is not enough. You see, I have high hopes that our community will make it through this period and emerge stronger and, yes, more united. However, for other communities around the country, the future is a lot less certain. What levers do the Muslim and Latino communities of this country have to pull when faced with chants about deportation and walls? A lot fewer than those of us who are fortunate to live here in progressive Bethesda or other similar places.

In light of that, it is up to us, those more privileged (due to education, wealth and role in society) to do much, much more. I have been blessed to be part of the Bethesda community for the best part of a decade and have come to understand that we have, among us, talent and influence on a scale that few communities can match. Now, after this election, we have to use those strengths to directly challenge the rise of hate we are seeing across the country.

What am I asking of you? In short, to rethink the way your personal beliefs about society and professional life interact. Yes, you should sign petitions and donate to organizations that are on the right side of these issues, but recognize that is no way close to being sufficient. When a country sees its very fabric begin to unravel, its citizens have an obligation to act not only during their private time but during their professional time. For example, if you run a contracting firm with high level political contacts,  referencing your profound concerns with those you are connected to is infinitely more significant than signing an e-petition to the White House.

I strongly believe that a community such as ours, can lead the way in resisting the tide of intolerance. And we can do so by making clear that everyone, from the President on down, has a responsibility to stand firmly and publicly against the hatred that this campaign has unleashed.

 

 

Greening Bethesda

The recent Bethesda Green awards gala was an opportunity to showcase good, green efforts in the community via their green awards ceremony. We were happy to see that TD Bank and Bell Nursery co-won the leading by example awards for business:

“TD Bank on Old Georgetown Road and Woodmont Avenue in Bethesda and Bell Nursery, with a location in Silver Spring, were co-winners of the Leading by Example Award for businesses. TD Bank uses solar panels, a green roof, ivy walls and recycled products to make its building and business as green as possible. Bell Nursery, which supplies flowers and plants across the Mid-Atlantic, has continued to work with Home Depot to recycle millions of plastic pots. The company also has converted two of its facilities entirely to wind power and has promoted the production of native plants.”

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Niche.com ranks Bethesda No. 89 Nationally

Congratulations to all of the people who make Bethesda their home. Niche.com ranked Bethesda No. 89 nationally in a very detailed study on the top 100 places to live across the country (see here for a searchable site).

Their methodology includes real estate (yay) and a whole lot more besides:

The 2016 Best Places to Live ranking provides a comprehensive assessment of the overall livability of an area at the place level. This grade takes into account several key factors of a location, including the quality of local schools, crime rates, housing trends, employment statistics, and access to amenities in an attempt to measure the overall quality of an area.

It is also important to point out that 11 neighborhoods in Montgomery County made the top 100 list. Congratulations to all their residents!

My day job, as regular readers know, is that of a real estate agent (licensed associate broker in MD and licensed agent DC and VA) and I am very happy to discuss these, and other local neighborhoods, with folks thinking about moving to our area. Feel free to give a call at 240 486 3921.

Cheers!

Target Coming to Bethesda

SO it seems that Target is going to open one of its urban style stores on the first floor of The Shops of Wisconsin – better known as the Trader Joes complex.  While the Target will certainly provide some advantages to the community, it will also pose a challenge from a parking perspective. Things are already tough there and Target will increase the pressure for spaces. Now, it is true that the Bethesda shuttle runs to that spot – perhaps there is a way to increase the number of shuttles running particularly during peak shopping times? The real estate space being secured by Target is approx 35,000 it seems. What do you think? Benefit? Problem?

 

Reflections on Last Weeks Shooting

I wanted to let a few days pass before I posted a note on the tragic shootings last week in Bethesda and Silver Spring. First, and most importantly, our thoughts are with the victims and their families. Such senseless acts of violence have become all too common and, after last weeks acts, it is clear we are not immune here in Bethesda. 

When you have been through a scary situation like this I feel that it is important to note that there were many people who stepped up and tried to make things a bit better. In particular there are 3-4 groups of people who deserve our thanks:

1. law enforcement – who acted quickly and bravely to bring the accused to justice

2. school teachers and administrators throughout the county who quickly implemented lock downs to try and protect our children

3. medical staff – dealing with the victims of the shootings to try and save lives

4. security staff throughout the county that assisted law enforcement in locking down gov buildings, schools etc.

It is very hard to see anything good coming out of this incident…maybe it will encourage our elected officials to push for better mental health care and tighter gun laws? I hope so but am not sure.

So I will end this post by thanking those who reacted and hoping those who can reduce the number of these incidents will do their jobs a little bit better.

Primary Day in Bethesda

Just got back from voting at BCC – thanks to all the volunteers and poll workers. As usual you made it a good experience.

I was also really happy to see that the new voting system includes a paper ballot combined with an electronic scanner – I thought that was quite a smart bit of innovation.

Go out and vote folks!

Grosvenor Heights

Friends,

As noted yesterday I visited the site for a new town home development in Bethesda (on Grosvenor lane) called Grosvenor Heights. It is a 33 acre space tucked away close to Grosvenor metro/ 270 access and reasonably close to Wildwood Shopping Center.

The 33 acre space is interesting because it includes a historic property or two + a small office building that seems to be reserved for environmental orgs. It is surrounded by trees and vegetation (and apparently their are efforts to work on increasing native vegetation).

The town home community itself is just being built. The properties will range in price from 1.1 million (approx) to just under 1.4 million (approx) and will have a lot of terrific features including roof terraces and elevators.

I had a very good discussion with the staff there and am happy to set up a private hard hat tour/ viewing if that is of interest to readers of this blog. As ever, you can email me raj@rajabout.com or call at 240 486 3921

I took a few snaps to showcase the work so far and also a map of the area:

 

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Reflections on the Planning Process

Hi folks, just wanted to pop in and share a couple of thoughts about the County planning process and how it impacts our little town of Bethesda.

First, and most significantly, our little town is growing up (literally!) very fast. If you walk from Battery Lane in Old Bethesda to Barnes and Nobles in New Bethesda you will see 6-7 new apartment buildings that have either just been completed or are about to be completed. Each building means new, and more residents, more density of people and traffic and likely more, and new services, drawn to this emerging group. Each Bethesda resident will have their own take on this growth but it is real and (second point coming up) it is continuing! At the planning session last week it was interesting to see how the bulk of the time seemed to be spent with developers pushing for more density or trying to ensure the proposed increases would be set in stone. The number of large apartment buildings that have been proposed and that developers are advocating for, is astonishing.

Third, the new housing stock is high end and expensive. The MPDU rental program does not work effectively and people making decent money are being priced out of Bethesda – it is remarkable that young professionals making $40-50K can barely find housing that meets their needs.

Moving away from housing it is also worth noting that there is a lack of imagination at the county level when it comes to greening the community and making it more livable. That is a surprise for a place as progressive as Bethesda but a point worth noting.

The last point regarding the planning meeting is that it is crucial that the citizenry engage much more than they are currently doing. There are still opportunities to influence the Bethesda plan and if we don’t want to wake up and look like Northern Virginia the time to engage is now.

Please feel free to leave your thoughts below – these are important discussions that need to be had in public.