Around Town

Shaare Torah Rabbi Celebrated

After more than 20 years at Shaare Torah, Rabbi Jacob Blumenthal is moving on to become the chief executive of the International Rabbinical Assembly, the governing body for all rabbis of Conservative Judaism around the world. Several hundred community members attended a celebration on Sept. 2 at the synagogue, and City of Gaithersburg Councilmembers Ryan Spiegel, Laurie-Anne Sayles and Mike Sesma gave Rabbi Blumenthal a proclamation honoring his long service to the community. City Councilmember Neil Harris was also in attendance.

MANHATTAN SHORT Film Festival to Return

The Arts Barn will host the MANHATTAN SHORT film festival, featuring 10 short films (20 minutes or less) that the audience will view and vote on. Screenings will take place on Thursday, Oct. 3 and Friday, Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. Films include “Nefta Football Club” (France), “Debris” (USA), “Driving Lessons” (Iran), “Tipped” (Canada), “Sylvia” (United Kingdom), “The Match” (Finland), “This Time Away” (United Kingdom), “Malou” (Germany), “A Family Affair” (United Kingdom) and “At The End Of The World” (USA).

These films will be screened in more than 350 cinemas across six continents. Some 100,000 film lovers will unite to view and vote on the finalists’ films. All films selected will be eligible for an Oscar nomination, and finalists will be part of the MANHATTAN SHORT Oscar Qualifying Run.

The Arts Barn Pub, featuring beer, wine and snacks, opens one hour prior to screening times. Admission is $12. Please note that some films may contain mature themes and content. This event is appropriate for ages 13 and older. Call the Arts Barn Box Office for tickets, 301.258.6394.

Unanimous Approval for Market Square Building SDP

The City Council voted unanimously on Sept. 4 to approve the schematic development plan (SDP) for a six-story, multi-use building in Kentlands Market Square. The building, to be located at 630 Center Point Way in place of the current surface parking lot and row of commercial buildings that include Buca di Beppo and Orangetheory Fitness, proposes 245 apartments, 12,150 square feet of commercial space, 1,140 square feet of office space, 570 structured parking spaces for residential and commercial use, and 3,000 square feet of amenity space for the residences.

After a June 17 public hearing and community input that included two letters written on behalf
of six organizations representing Kentlands and Lakelands groups, the property owner, Kimco, amended plans to address community concerns. City Planner Caroline Seiden told the Mayor and City Council that staff “is supportive of the SDP.” She outlined community concerns—quality of building architecture, new traffic patterns along Kentlands Boulevard, need for more active uses along Center Point Way, potential loss of Kentlands post office, adequacy of commercial parking, and the design of the back-end angled parking spaces along Commerce Square Place—and detailed how the applicant has addressed them.

To alleviate concern over lack of active uses along the building’s Center Point Way façade, previously more unlined garage frontage, Kimco has

  • wrapped commercial uses from Commerce Square Place around Center Point Way for 39 feet;
  • extended the main residential lobby on the east end of the building 81 feet on Center Point Way;
  • added a pedestrian vestibule into the parking garage;
  • reduced the break in the sidewalk to serve the loading and vehicular entrance from 23 feet to 22 feet; and
  • added an additional 63 linear feet of office space east of the pedestrian vestibule.

All of these changes have reduced the unlined garage elevation from approximately 130 feet to 55 feet, Seiden said. She reported that Kimco will work with the Kentlands post office and other displaced tenants to relocate them within the Kentlands Market Square Center.

The 21 angled back-in parking spaces envisioned for Commerce Square Place are in keeping with the city’s new street design standards and implement traffic calming best practices, Seiden said. The spaces will give motorists better sight lines as they exit into the roadway and are safer for loading of packages and persons.

Parking throughout the center is more than adequate, she noted. The center requires 943 commercial spaces, but it will offer 811 surface parking spaces and 229 parking garage spaces—or 1,040—for commercial use.

Staff, she added, believes “the development will not adversely affect the character of the surrounding neighborhood because proposed architecture will be compatible and harmonious with the surrounding neighborhood.” The City Council found the applicant very responsive to community concerns and approved the SDP, 5-0.