Almost a decade ago, then-Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan and some other local officials wrung their hands at the thought of Wegmans opening a store in the county. Duncan even proposed that big-box retailers would have to obtain a special zoning exception before they could build, though the proposal would have exempted club stores like Costco.
So Wegmans sought more welcoming counties and opened stores in six other areas of Maryland first, including Frederick.
But about four years ago, Wegmans found a parcel it could work with in Germantown near the 150,000-square-foot Walmart. A 123,000-square-foot Wegmans branch is due to open in mid-September.
“It really hasn’t been that long of a process,” said Jo Natale, a Wegmans spokeswoman who was among several representatives from the Rochester, N.Y.-based private company who met this week with The Gazette.
The store is making good progress in hiring 550 local employees for its new Germantown store, with about 60 percent of that task completed, said store manager Phil Quattrini, who previously managed the Frederick store. He expects to have the full staff on board by mid-August to undergo a rigorous training program.
The process is not without its twists. Wegmans has more than 80 stores in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Virginia, Maryland and Massachusetts, but the Germantown one is the first to deal with a bag tax. Quattrini has been going to some local stores to observe how patrons deal with the bag fee and doesn’t expect a big impact.
What about the rain tax, the stormwater runoff fee that is proposed to be extended to businesses in 10 large Maryland counties, including Montgomery and Frederick? Natale said they had not heard of such a fee. But they will.
— Kevin James Shay
It seems like just the other day (it was) that we were gawking at the film crew that took over the State House and quietly stalking actor Kevin Spacey. But no sooner had it arrived and brought a touch of Tinseltown to Annapolis, than Netflix’s “House of Cards” packed up and left, having transformed the House chamber into a facsimile of the U.S. Senate, before the capitol returned to its old self.
“It’s almost like they were never here,” Sam Cook, Annapolis region director of the state’s Department of General Services, which manages state buildings, said Thursday.
The Gazette caught a glimpse of Spacey on Monday as he hustled out the western exit of the building and into a large, black SUV as the crew broke for lunch. Usually, it’s Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D) darting out of that exit into a large, black SUV.
On the show, the Academy Award-winner plays an amoral, scheming, power-hungry politician — the sort that one would never, ever find in Annapolis in real life. Ever.
The State House was closed to the public during filming but open to employees — and a few intrepid reporters with state ID cards.
It was tough to get a look at filming for most of the day. A team of production assistants politely guarded the doors and staircases and was outside the second-floor House gallery. But a brief, self-guided tour while the crew was eating lunch showed a redecorated House rostrum and an array of camera and lighting equipment spread around the State House lobby.
Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), no stranger to show business — he appeared in the film “Ladder 49” as, get this, the mayor of Baltimore, and has his own rock band — was out of the country and unable to appear in “House of Cards.”
Neither House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Dist. 30) of Annapolis nor Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Dist. 27) of Chesapeake Beach was planning to make an appearance. Busch was initially interested before it became clear his schedule couldn’t accommodate the shoot, according to his staff.
— Daniel Leaderman
Far be it from us to encourage the reading of any other news publication, but readers of The New York Times might have noticed a familiar name in last week’s wedding announcements: Comptroller Peter V.R. Franchot.
Well, really it was his daughter, investment officer Abigail Franchot, who married venture capitalist Daniel Borok in Chatham, Mass., on June 15. The two both work in New York.
“The bride’s father is the comptroller of Maryland,” the announcement discreetly noted.
— Daniel Leaderman