Discover Bethesda, Maryland...365 Days a Year!

Author Archive

Day 327: Chase that Turkey!

Turkey Chase 10K Start

Several years ago a past real estate client of mine asked me if I’d be interested in running with him and his young children in the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase Turkey Chase.  I had heard about the annual YMCA sponsored event but had never participated.  We arrived early in the morning at the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase campus on Old Georgetown Road.  Our breath curled from our lips as we warmed up that frosty Thanksgiving morning in preparation for the race.  I was surprised by the large crowd of people, numbering in the thousands, that had turned out for the race.  We “competed” in the 10K that morning and although I finished the race I was embarrassed that my client’s 10 year old son not only finished the race, but also doubled back to catch up with his father and me after he finished and find us lagging more than a mile behind.  Ahhhh youth!  It was a great time (in spite of the uphill climbs along Wisconsin Avenue!) (see race route).

Tot Trot

This year’s 29th Annual Turkey Chase has over 8,000 already registered to run and has three events scheduled: a 10 kilometer race (10K or about 6.2 miles), a 2 miler, and a 50 Meter “Tot Trot” run for the really little ones ages 8 and under.  The kids get to chase a Turkey Mascot around the YMCA track and it’s a lot of fun with prizes for ALL the kids.  The USATF 10K is serious business with IPICO Tag System for scoring.  This is an electronic microchip you wear on your shoe that records your time from start to finish.  The race is run in “wave” style whereby the runners are grouped in waves.  The first Wave is runners who can complete the race in under a 7 min mile (are you kidding me?!) and the last wave is for runners who complete the race in an average of 10 minute miles or more – my kinda group – but at least keep pace with a 14 minute mile minimum.  This year you can wear headphones!  The start time is 8:30 a.m. at 9401 Old Georgetown Roadand you can register at the event (arrive early if that’s your plan).

Turkeys

The Turkeys!

The cost to enter the races is $48 for the 10K, $25 for the 2 mile, and $18 for the 50 Meter Trot.  Ticket proceeds fund the “signature charity event” sponsored by the Bethesda Rotary Club and the YMCA Bethesda-Chevy Chase.  The whole event is a lot of fun so lace up those sneakers and burn off that Thanksgiving meal you’ll be eating later in the day and get out to the Turkey Chase! (and try not to let too many 10 year olds lap you!) ~ Brian 

All photos courtesy of Bethesda Rotary.

Day 325: Fresh EATS for Thanksgiving: SPECIAL Bethesda Central Farm Market

BCFM on Bethesda Lane

This Wednesday, November 23rd from 10:00 AM – 2 :00 PM the Bethesda Central Farm Market will hold a SPECIAL THANKSGIVING MARKET on Bethesda Lane!  What a wonderful place to pick up some last-minute fresh additions to your big meal.

The market is located on Bethesda Lane between Elm Street and Bethesda Ave.  The whole area is decorated for the holidays and even the most ardent Scrooge can’t help but feel a tinge of the holiday spirit walking past it’s lavishly decorated boughs of holly.

Fresh Bread! Yum!

The special market on Wednesday will feature vendors offering salamis, organic beef jerky, sausage for your stuffing, dressings for your salads, honey-sweetened cranberry-orange relish, fresh breads and of course pies!  The vendor Wollam Gardens will also offer beautiful pumpkin centerpieces and bouquets many around $30.

If you’re like me and often wait until the last minute to buy for the big day, the Bethesda Central Farm Market on Wednesday just might save your turkey butt!  Let’s get into the holiday spirit and support our local farmers.    ~Amy

Day 324: The Sunday Snapshot, Bethesda Real Estate

Bethesda in Fall Bloom

It’s Sunday, November 20th and despite the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase real estate market is still open for business.  There are 47 detached homes scheduled to be open today and 13 condos or attached units.  To find the details and properties of interest to you, we suggest a visit to www.HomesDatabase.com.

REAL ESTATE NEWSFLASH:  There were some important changes to our real estate market this past Friday when President Obama signed into law a bill reinstating higher limits for FHA loans in higher-cost markets such as our Metro DC area.  The ruling partially repeals the decreased limits that came into effect on October 1st of this year which lowered the conforming loan limits from $729,750 to $625,500 – a change which essentially knocked some purchasers right out of the market and severely increased the costs of homeownership to others.  The lower limits required buyers to put more money down and/or reduce the price of the home they would buy in order to afford the costs of the loan.

With the average home in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase area hovering near $900,000, the pickin’s are slim when a buyer only has $625,500 of mortgage money available for financing.  This new law, effective on Friday, re-instated the $729,750 limit and re-opened the higher priced market again to purchasers using FHA mortgages, allowing them to put as little as 3.5% down and finance up to the new loan limit.

www.KeystoBethesda.com

While the re-instated FHA loan limit is terrific news for our area, the ruling did not apply to Fannie-Mae or Freddie-Mac insured loans, leaving those who would prefer conventional financing versus FHA still facing higher costs of financing since anything above the $625,500 mortgage loan limit (as of October 1st) still requires the purchaser to obtain a Jumbo Loan.  Jumbos go hand-in-hand with higher fees and higher interest rates.

As our economy still struggles with its rehabilitation after the Great Recession, I think we can all agree that the health of our real estate market nation-wide is a critical piece of our economic recovery and that homeownership is not only still a great American Dream, but it’s still a great long-term investment too.

~Amy

Day 319: iCoke – The New Coca Cola Freestyle Vending Machine

New Coca Cola Freestyle Machine

There have been several sightings of the latest and greatest in Coca Cola vending technology in Bethesda.  The latest is at the new Nando’s Peri Peri on Bethesda Avenue (the other is at California Tortilla).  The new Coca Cola Freestyle® vending machine is a sleek piece of machinery indeed.  Like an iPhone for soda this modern marvel dispenses over 100 different sodas from a single machine – all using a touch screen.  Have you ever heard of Peach Fanta?

Over 100+ flavors to choose from

There are custom flavors for all the traditional Coca Cola products.  How about a Cherry Vanilla Coke or a Sprite with Raspberry?  Here’s a YouTube video to give you a flavor of what I’m talking about (get it flavor? LOL).  My understanding is the Five Guys Burger chain is the first national chain to roll-out the new machine companywide so look for the new machine next door at Five Guys soon. ~Brian

Day 318: The Sights and Sounds of the Capital Crescent Trail

The approach to the Tunnel

The approach to the Tunnel

“Ting!” goes the bell as the biker passes by and announces, “On your left.”  Thump, thump, thump, thump as the runner jogs past on the other side of the trail.  Shhhhhh…the wind whispers through the trees as the dry fall leaves rustle and float down to alight upon the path.  Crunch! as I step on a dry brown leaf that crumbles underfoot.

As I round the soft bend approaching Mile Marker 6.0, the Dalecarlia Tunnel comes into view in the distance.  A woman is walking her dog toward the tunnel.  It looks like a golden retriever perhaps as its tail swishes from side-to-side.

The Ghost of the Last Train

As they enter the tunnel with its yellowish light bulbs all in a row lining the ceiling like bread crumbs to lead the way out, an airplane rumbles overhead as it zips toward Reagan Airport in Washington, D.C.  As I soon enter the tunnel behind her, I can almost hear the echo of the last train to run through it in 1985.  “Whoo! Whoo!” goes the whistle and I hear the distant clack, clack, clack of the wheels that once rolled over the track where now only the ghost of it remains.

The Light at the end of the Tunnel

The Light at the end of the Tunnel

The last vestiges of fall color the landscape as I emerge from the Tunnel and take in this perfect autumn 73 degree day – a rare and wonderful treat!  It may perhaps be the last warm day of the year and I am so glad to be able to carve out some time to walk the Capital Crescent Trail – one of my favorite treasures of Bethesda.

For those who are not familiar with the trail, it was formerly known as the Georgetown Branch of the B&O Railroad, created in 1910 and then converted to a trail 78 years later thanks to the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy, a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C.

The Capital Crescent Trail spans a 10-mile distance from Silver Spring, MD to Georgetown in Washington, D.C.  It’s a favorite of 2-wheeled commuters, athletes and people who just stay fit while enjoying the outdoors.  One of the spots I appreciate most on the trail is the Dalecarlia Tunnel which was constructed in 1910.  If you look closely when walking through it, you will notice 4 “duck ins” – carved areas that were made for people who were stuck in the tunnel when a train would come; the train was probably shipping coal from Cumberland, MD to Georgetown in D.C.  The Roman arch brick tunnel is 18′ wide and 341′ long.  You can find the Tunnel between mile marker and 6.0 and 6.5.  It sits almost right at the Bethesda-D.C. line.

Mile Marker 4.5 near River Rd

Mile Marker 4.5 near River Rd

There are many places to access the Capital Crescent Trail.  A popular spot is on Bethesda Ave., across the street from Barnes and Noble.  Take some time to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Trail.  At any time of year you will enjoy a beautiful and relaxing experience.  You may come across deer, a fox or even one of your neighbors also taking in this special place.  ~Amy

Capital Crescent Trail Map, Bethesda

Capital Crescent Trail Map, Bethesda

Day 317: The Sunday Snapshot, Bethesda Real Estate

www.KeystoBethesda.com

It’s Sunday, November 13th and time for another Sunday Snapshot of our local Bethesda Real Estate market.  As usual, there are quite  a lot of homes available to visit at open houses today – most of which are open from 1-4 PM.  To check all the listings available visit: www.HomesDatabase.com provided by our local Multiple Listing Service, MRIS.

According to MRIS, there are 83 single family homes open today in Bethesda and Chevy Chase and 14 condos and townhomes.  Here are some of our picks for the best walk-to-downtown-Bethesda locations that are open today:

  • 7819 Custer Rd., Bethesda for $839,900
  • 5506 Hoover St., Bethesda $930,000
  • 7612 Glenbrook Rd., Bethesda for $1,049,000
  • 4436 Ridge St., Chevy Chase for $1,675,000
  • 4400 Elm St., Chevy Chase for 1,795,000

and our favorite walk-to-Bethesda selection is:

A Tuscan Villa in Bethesda - 5306 Bradley Blvd

5306 Bradley Blvd., for $1,695,000 a beautifully updated and charming Tuscan villa that sits on a 20,319 sq. ft. lot – that’s almost a 1/2 acre.  The original home was built in the 1930’s and there have been additions and beautiful updates to it, yet its original charm is still preserved.  The yard is amazing!  There is plenty of off-street parking with a big circular driveway and a detached 2-car garage that offers a private bedroom or office space above.  It’s a must-see home!

There are a couple of townhomes we recommend as well if you’re looking for a good investment opportunity or convenient and less-expensive option for commuting on the METRO Red Line.  One of our favorite Bethesda condominiums, Hampden Square, has a 2-story condo available for $799,500 with three balconies, nice updates, a garage, 2 bedrooms and 2 1/2 baths.  Beautifully located to enjoy all the Bethesda has to offer just outside your front door.  Condo dues are high in the building but the perks are pretty terrific!  The unit address is 4801 Hampden Ln #103 and please note that it’s open only from 1 – 3 PM.

5127 King Charles Way

Another great option near the Grosvenor Metro stop is the Grosvenor Mews community.  The large 3-story townhomes are convenient, offer very low dues (~$110/month) and a ton of space!  There are two townhomes on the market and both will be open today.

Of course, here comes our shameless plug!  Brian Maury will be available to show you the unit at 5127 King Charles Way today from 1 – 4 PM.  It’s priced at $509,000 and offers two large master suites, a very large deck off the kitchen and a spacious lower-level family room.  Stop by and check it out!     ~Amy

Day 316: Lunch in Bethesda….in a Jiffy!

Jiffy Shoppes Chicken Sub!

Jiffy Shoppes Subs and Pizza

We’ve all been there.  We get so hungry we just have to eat and eat NOW.  A friend of mine is fond of saying “I’m so hungry my stomach is gnawing on my liver!” The visual of that always helps keep my appetite in check but I digress.  My moment came this week after dropping our dog off at Bone Jour for a spa treatment (a superwash and cut).  Across the street is a new subs and pizza joint to the Bethesda scene – Jiffy Shoppes Subs and Pizza at 4924 St. Elmo Avenue.  The original Jiffy’s is located in Suitland, MD and was started by the Bethesda location owner’s father and uncle more than 30 years ago.  The two-family Greek tradition continues in fine fashion here with great pizza, gyros, and subs being some of the main attractions. I ordered a chicken breast sub that was tender and juicy.  It was complimented with fries that gave McDonald’s a run for their money, cooked to perfection – crispy and hot!     ~Brian

Day 312: Graffiti Art on Bethesda Avenue

Kilmany-Jo Liversage Street Art

If you’ve been down Bethesda Avenue lately you know that one Chicken is OUT and another is IN –Nando’s Peri~Peri!  OK I admit the Chicken Out reference was pretty bad but today Amy and I enjoyed our first visit to Nando’s Peri~Peri restaurant.  We’ll talk more about that visit in the days to come but I wanted to pass along some cool photos of the outside Grafitti (a.k.a. Street) artwork that adorns the new location.

Kilmany-Jo Liversage Street Art

Created by South African artist, Kilmany-Jo Liversage – aka Orda, the murals are a bit edgy (just what some of the 1% in Bethesda go for!) and beautiful all at the same time. Kilmany-Jo Liversage uses aerosol spray paint to create large colorful paintings that are clearly part of the “street art” genre but are also sophisticated and highly artistic. For more on her amazing work check out her blogspot at http://kilmany.blogspot.com.  Nando’s Peri~Peri has a corporate tradition of infusing their locations with artwork form artists around the globe and it’s really what gives the restaurants their signature style.  Enjoy the new street scape (and the artwork within) and look for our blog on Nando’s soon.  ~Brian

Day 310: The Sunday Snapshot, Bethesda Real Estate

It’s Sunday, November 6th, 2011 and a great day to check out open houses in our Bethesda and Chevy Chase communities.  Most homes are open from 1-4 PM.  This Sunday there are 97 open houses scheduled, according to MRIS (Metropolitan Regional Information System)!  That’s quite a selection! To see them all, an excellent website to visit is www.HomesDatabase.com, powered directly by our local MLS (Multiple Listing System), MRIS.

Of those 97 open houses today, 73 of them are single family homes ranging in price from $515,000- $2,450,000.  The lowest price home is located at 8417 Donneybrook Dr., Chevy Chase in the neighborhood of Rock Creek Forest just off of East-West Highway.   At $2,450,000, the highest price home open today is located at 6017 Cairn Terrace in Bethesda, near Mass Ave.  It’s a sleek, interesting contemporary with a sauna, a built-in aquarium and many unique architectural features that only a contemporary home can embody!

There are 20+ condos that will be open ranging in price from $199,000  – $1,499,000.  The lowest price condo is located at 7400 Lakeview Dr. in a community called West Spring which is close to Montgomery Mall.  The highest priced condo open today is located in the sleek Lionsgate building in Bethesda at 7710 Woodmont Ave.  It will absolutely knock your socks off!  Don’t miss the rooftop terrace!  When comparing condos, keep in mind that in order to compare apples to apples on price, you should consider the not only the purchase price but also review the monthly condo fee and what it includes.  Some condo fees include all utilities and many amenities while others include only selected utilities and/or perhaps none at all.

Brian & Amy: www.KeystoBethesda.com

The Bethesda Real Estate market has managed to remain fairly healthy as compared to rest of the country even throughout the toughest times in the recession.  Great schools, higher employment rates and fewer foreclosures and short sales than most cities have all helped to buoy our real estate market above national averages.

As of September 30th of this year, the average price of a detached home in Bethesda was roughly $985,000, an increase of 3.6% over 2010.  The median price was $849,000 representing an increase of 3.4% over 2010 figures.  The average number of days it is taking a single family home to sell is 59 days in that same period – a slight improvement over 2010.  With our area showing year-over-year improvements and interest rates at record lows, this is a great time to consider buying or investing in real estate in our area.  Enjoy house hunting and give us a call if we can be of service.

For more Bethesda Real Estate market updates, follow #BethesdaBrian on Twitter and check back here, Bethesda365.com every Sunday for our new weekly Bethesda Real Estate – Sunday Snapshot.    ~Brian & Amy

Day 293: Green Home Expo at Bethesda Green

Green Home Expo - Oct. 22nd, 2011

Tomorrow, Saturday, October 22nd, Bethesda Green located at 4825 Cordell Ave will host the Green Home Expo.

The Green Home Expo is a free educational event.  Attendees will learn more about the many ways to make your home more energy efficient and how to become a more effective environmental steward in the community.  Presentations will occur throughout the day from 10 AM – 4 PM.

You can learn more about Bethesda Green and RSVP to attend the Green Home Expo event by visiting their website at www.bethesdagreen.org.  Or check out our previous blog about Bethesda Green from Day 34: It Ain’t Easy Being Green.

RE/MAX Green Agent

Sometimes the best way to make a positive stride towards environmental sustainability is to just take one step or make one small change in your routine or habits.  Perhaps the Green Home Expo would be a great way to decide what that one step might be.     ~Amy

Day 287: Bethesda Row Arts Festival Oct 15-16, 2011

Bethesda Row Arts Festival 2011 - Oct 15-16

Other than the occasional wind gust today, the weather was absolutely perfect for the 14th Annual Bethesda Row Arts Festival.  The fall leaves bursting with color created a wonderful backdrop for this outdoor gallery of sorts feauring over 185 artists from around the country.  Live music played and visitors strolled through with their canine companions – so many furry friends in fact that one may have mistaken this for Strut Your Mutt!

The show features paintings, ceramics, jewelry, fashion, sculpture, metalwork, glass art, drawings, woodwork and more. The festival also includes an art sale benefitting the NIH Children’s Charities, live music and street vendors.  As always, you will find some good eatin’.

Sherri's Crab Cakes

Today, Brian and I indulged in Sherri’s Crab Cakes with some sweet tea!  They were a tasty little delight – even though they come from Pennsylvania and not Maryland!  Sherri’s is an interesting concept – only selling their crab cakes and crab soup at festivals and on-line as uncooked frozen goods.

If you missed the Bethesda Row Arts Festival today, don’t worry.  They will be there again tomorrow, Sunday, October 16th from 11 AM – 5 PM, rain or shine.  “Shine” is predicted!  Stop by and enjoy a stroll yourself.  I may have to go back tomorrow and select something fun to take home with me.  A must admit to a certain feeling of longing for a little tree frog I met today.  Check it out at www.adventuresofatreefrog.com.

Here are some photos from our day:

Bethesda Ave where the fall leaves frame the Art Festival

Sculptures on Woodmont Ave.

Elm Street, Bethesda

Steve, Editor of Bethesda Magazine with Brian

Day 285: Grand Opening of the NEW Safeway in Bethesda

The Old Safeway (Photo:TBD.com)

The NEW Safeway! (Right now) Photo: Oxblue.com

Today marked the first day of operations for the new Safeway located in Bethesda at 5000 Bradley Blvd.  OK so “technically” this new “Bethesda Safeway” actually has a Chevy Chase address – but who’s checking!  Don’t worry if you didn’t make it today though – the Grand Opening extends through tomorrow, Friday, October 14th when there will be a 12-hour sale from 8 AM – 8 PM.

I couldn’t help but head out today and brave the crowds, the crazy 2-level underground parking lot and even the Montgomery County tornado watch this afternoon to check out the new digs!

After watching the building come to life over many months, the store’s opening has been much anticipated in our area.  The dilapidated old, one-story and dare we say it “dumpy” Safeway store that once occupied the corner of Bradley Blvd and Arlington has now been replaced by a new, sleek, attractive 3-story structure that even has up-lighting at night that gradually changes colors.  It’s pretty cool actually!

You can see the total transformation of the structure on an OxBlue time lapse web cam from Roche Constructors, Inc.  Click on any day of the site’s calendar to see the construction progress day-by-day.

The store has a pharmacy, dry cleaning service, Starbucks kiosk, antipasti bar, cafe where you can get sushi, sandwiches and other food made ready-to-eat and a nice floral department.  The wood fire oven in the back where they were baking loaves of fresh bread was my favorite discovery though!  Here are some pictures of what I found at the new Safeway this evening:

Gift wrapped platters for entertaining or gifts

Enjoy something from the cafe & look over the town

A Refrigerator Section in the Pet Aisle? Yep!

The Produce Section

Interesting spices and roots for international cooking

Fresh baked bread from the oven! They will slice it for you too!

Day 282: Classic Toys in Bethesda – tugooh toys & Yiro

tugooh toys & Yiro

When my girls were little, I made a dress-up trunk for them.  In went old Halloween costumes, high heel shoes that weren’t in fashion anymore, old purses, aprons, dresses and costume jewelry.  The girls would spend hours dressing up and pretending to “go to work” or acting like models on the fashion runway.  Their dress up trunk offered hours of fun and laughter and I have the pictures today to enjoy forever.

Recently I visited tugooh toys & Yiro  located at 4823 Bethesda Ave. for a walk down memory lane with my eldest daughter – now 22 – who was visiting Bethesda from Seattle.  They had all kinds of great toys from her youth and mine – classics like wooden train sets, doll houses, Lamb Chomp puppets, Rubik’s Cube and lots of dresses and costumes that brought back those dress up trunk memories for both of us.  tugooh toys & Yiro also offers new favorites as well, so every kid from 4 to 40 would be pleased.  I still have no idea what tugooh means but the toys are well-made in appearance, many of which are educational in nature.  There is also a nice selection of books available.  Yiro is the upscale, eco-friendly organic clothing line you’ll find displayed in the back of the boutique.

Ahhh, the memories of dress up!

Our Mad Libs!

Our Mad Libs!

We spent a long time browsing through the store, laughing and playing with toys – old and new – on display.  No one hassled us and we received prompt service when the time came to check out with our goodies.  One of the things we selected was Mad Libs – a word game that’s always a raucous good time on a long car or airplane ride with family or friends.  If you have never tried them, check them out!  tugooh toys & Yiro is a great shop for browsing with your kids, to find unique and classic gifts and for a walk down memory lane!    ~Amy

Day 273: Taste of Rainy Bethesda!

Taste of Bethesda - Mussels

One of Bethesda’s most well-known events, Taste of Bethesda, was held today in the Woodmont Triangle.  In years past the event has drawn over 40,000 people and today, in spite of the raw, cold, rainy weather, the 22nd annual food fest was well attended.  The “tastes” did not disappoint as thousands enjoyed the smaller portioned sizes and offerings as the many vendors were out “rain or shine” to satisfy the throngs of people who braved unusually chilly weather (with the wind it felt like mid 40’s) to sample the best that Bethesda has to offer.

These girls huddled to brave the chilly weather!

Pan Seared Scallops

I of course sampled several of the vendors to ensure “quality control.”  I admit I had to repeatedly purchase more tickets!  My favorites included pan seared scallops with Risotto from Chef Tony (4926 St. Elmo) and petite Filet Mignon sandwiches from Morton’s for just 2 tickets (or about $2).  There was plenty to eat and some real delicacies being prepared at some of the vendor tents.  I’ll be sure not to miss this event next year.  Tonight’s dinner will definitely be a salad as the grilled items, desserts, and enticing entrees sang a siren song to me this afternoon! ~ Brian

Day 269: Bethesda Row Fountain to Re-open

Bethesda Row Fountain

On Saturday October 1 from 1:00-3:00 p.m. Häagen-Dazs and My Eye Dr. are sponsoring an Ice Cream Social to commemorate the re-opening of the Bethesda Row Fountain located in front of Barnes & Noble.  Häagen-Dazs will be offering free ice cream samples and My Eye Dr. will be giving away free sunglasses for children and offering discounts at their new store nearby.

For many months we have been strolling past the large wooden enclosure in front of Barnes & Noble curiously awaiting the new fountain.  Originally scheduled to re-open this past summer, construction was delayed by a change in plans regarding the huge water tank that holds the fountain’s water beneath the fountain.  While we waited I enjoyed some of the artwork that was on the construction wall including this phrase that got me to thinking, “The Earth is a closed system, so the amount of moisture on our planet has not changed.  The water you drink today is the same water the dinosaurs drank millions of years ago.”  I never thought about water in that way and now it seems every time I drink some I can’t help but think about sharing a drink with a T-Rex! ~ Brian