Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Silver Spring News 'N Notes

- Masa, the Japanese Hibachi/Sushi restaurant located on the second floor of DTSS is now open for business. The restaurant has taken the unusual step of having a large banner produced to advertise their soft opening to DTSS-goers. Perhaps I'm mistaken, but isn't a "soft" opening by definition one you don't actively promote?

I'm putting off trying Masa for the time being, having been burned too many times by poor service and sub-par food when dining at newly-opened restaurants. I'll wait until they've been open a bit longer and have reached a critical mass of reviews on Yelp! and the like. To their credit, they have been receiving generally good reviews on Yelp! thus far. (I'm still on the fence about Society Lounge, which has been open a few weeks now, and whose Yelp! rating is hovering around my 3.5 star minimum.) And for those restaurants whose marking strategy includes leaving positive reviews of themselves in the comments section of this blog, please don't do that. It's really obvious when you do. I'm looking at you, Skew Works.

While its title may be somewhat misleading, a recent post on the Washington Post website provides some additional details on Masa.

- The pop-up toy store that took over Borders' old space when the bookseller went under has finally closed, and work appears to be underway in the interior, though there is no indication who might be moving in. There were some rumors about H&M last September, but I haven't heard any word on that since. I'd be surprised that they'd open a large store here with a brand new one just a few miles down Georgia Avenue in Wheaton Plaza, but who knows.  

UPDATE: It is H&M. Clearly I am not being diligent enough when it comes to monitoring the Downtown Silver Spring Facebook page. H&M will occupy 18,000 square ft. of the Borders space, and is set to open in September. H&M must be following an aggressive expansion plan, as they are also opening up a store over in Chevy Chase.

- After strangely having dueling websites with one site stating the restaurant was moving Bethesda and the other claiming this was a dirty rumor, Marrakesh is indeed gone. According to the liquor license request posted in the window, eventually taking its place will be a restaurant named Lucy's Ethiopian. I'm really surprised that yet another Ethiopian place is on the way, considering there's a new one opening (already open?) down the road at the former Taste of Jerusalem location and another new restaurant at the corner of Fenton and Silver Spring Ave. I don't know how many Ethiopian restaurants one downtown area can possibly support, but I guess we'll find out. Ironically, Marrakesh originally took over a portion of another Ethiopian restaurant - Langano - which still operates next door, though with a reduced footprint.

 - The massive CF that is the Transit Center's construction continues. Now the county and Foulger-Pratt are bringing in another engineer to assess the state of the negligently-poured concrete to determine if it is either too little or too much, and if there is any threat of hundreds of tons of concrete and buses falling on your head while you await the arrival of the Z2. It's even possible that the entire thing might even have to be torn down as an "apocalyptic solution".

- Joe Gyau, a 19-year old soccer player from Silver Spring, has signed a three-year contract with Hoffenheim in the German Bundesliga (their main soccer division), which is pretty impressive. More on Gyau here from the New York Times.

- Finally, this may be ancient in Internet time by now, but in case you haven't yet seen it, here's the police video of Batman being pulled over on Route 29 a few weeks back. Unsurprisingly, this story ended up going viral and being picked up nationally.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Silver Spring Shuttle

Unfortunately I did not have the opportunity to witness the arrival of the Space Shuttle Discovery yesterday morning, though those in downtown Silver Spring at the time were afforded a fantastic view of the Shuttle and the 747 aircraft transporting it.

I do retain faint childhood memories of watching from the Silver Spring YMCA as the Enterprise prototype circled the Capital Beltway many moons ago. Of course, that was more like a victory lap whereas yesterday had the air of a wake. Anyway, the purpose of this post is not to lament the current state of the U.S. manned spaceflight program, but rather to share these images captured by reader Joe Fox from his vantage point on top of the Bonifant-Dixon garage in downtown Silver Spring.

Approach from over the World Building

Spectators on the roof of the Discovery Building

Workers at the new 1150 Ripley building appear unimpressed
Between the NOAA buildings

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

For Sale: "Church"

One Silver Spring structure that has bugged me for some time is the office-building-turned-church located at 880 Bonifant Street. For years this was a nondescript mid-century commercial structure until a significant addition turned it into one of the biggest eyesores in all of downtown Silver Spring (and that's saying a lot).

I sincerely hope that the purchasers of this prime real estate, located just blocks from DTSS and surrounded by the future library, the planned development on the adjacent block and the so-called Fenton Street Village, demolish this Frankensteinian abomination and replace it with something that isn't painful to behold. Of course, without owning the adjacent gas station property, options could be somewhat limited.

Oddly, the real estate company handling the sale has opted to include a decades-old pre-renovation "before" photo in the listing. (Note the doing-giant-lines-of-cocaine-in-the-back 80's limo parked in the gas station lot to the right.)

I don't know what the future plans are for the Iglesia De Restauracion congregation, which presently utilizes this building as a house of worship, though a far more conventional church structure just happens to be available up Georgia Avenue:

Thanks to BR for alerting me to the listing.