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by Ethan Rothstein — February 25, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,709 0

The Comedy Spot in Ballston Common Mall(Updated at 3:45 p.m.The Comedy Spot, the stand-up and improvisational comedy venue on the third floor of Ballston Common Mall, will shut its doors this weekend and move into D.C.

Tomorrow night (Thursday), The Comedy Spot will host its final standup show, a free showcase for comics who have performed over the last 10 years at the venue.

Saturday night will be the final shows for the regular Comedysportz and The Blue Show improv comedy shows, at 7:30 and 10:00 p.m. respectively. Each show costs $15 and a large cast of present and past performers will take the stage for the final time.

After this weekend, the shows will move to the D.C. Improv at 1140 Connecticut Ave. NW, according to The Comedy Spot’s website. The first Comedysportz and Blue Show at the Improv will be March 14.

According to the host of the weekly open mic night, Kenneth Llewellyn, the Comedy Spot decided to let its lease run out, rather than renew before the mall undergoes its planned major renovation.

“The Comedy Spot is one of the longest running comedy mics in the DMV area,” Llewellyn said in an email. He’s hosted the free Thursday night shows, which have been held weekly for six years, since 2013. “After six years. the venue is closing so we’re having one last show featuring some of the all-time greats.”

The Comedy Spot’s owner, Liz Demery, told ARLnow.com in an email that her “rather expensive lease was up.”

I adore the people and audiences at the DC Improv,” she wrote. “Instead of having to maintain a physical space, we get to show up and play at their excellent location.”

by ARLnow.com — February 24, 2015 at 10:15 am 3,285 0

Gay Lord Balmilero Ballesteros (left) and Ezra Amankrah (right). Photo courtesy ACPD.Security officers at Ballston Common Mall swarmed to prevent two theft suspects from getting away Saturday night.

The incident happened around 6:30 p.m. Police say the two men were trying to leave Macy’s with concealed clothing items when they were confronted by a security officer.

The suspects assaulted that officer, but were detained by additional security employees, according to police.

The men, both Manassas area residents, were arrested and charged with robbery.

From the Arlington County Police daily crime report:

ROBBERY, 150221043, 700 block of N. Glebe Road. At 6:25 pm on February 21, a loss prevention officer at the mall confronted two subjects as they attempted to leave a store with concealed merchandise. The subjects assaulted the employee but were detained by additional mall security officers until police arrived. Ezra Amankrah, 20, of Manassas Park, VA, was arrested and charged with robbery and driving on a suspended license. Gay Lord Balmilero Ballesteros, 23, of Manassas, VA, was arrested and charged with robbery. Both subjects were held without bond.

by Ethan Rothstein — February 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm 1,306 0

The closed RadioShack in the Crystal City ShopsThe RadioShack in the Shops at 1750 Crystal Drive in Crystal City is closed and the RadioShack in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is expected to close by the end of March, if not sooner.

The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last week, and plans to close thousands of its locations by March 31, including the storefront in the Pentagon City Mall. Employees at the Pentagon City RadioShack could not say when that location would be closing, only that it was relatively imminent.

The RadioShack on the second floor of Ballston Common Mall is expected to be the last remaining location of the national electronics retailer in Arlington by the spring.

That Ballston store will likely be part of the newly formed consortium between Standard General, a private equity fund, and Sprint, the cell phone provider, keeping between 1,500 and 2,400 stores open nationwide, according to Forbes. Whenever the deal is finalized and the transition occurs, the leftover stores will be selling a mix of Sprint products and the electronic goods like cords and adapters for which RadioShack has become known.

by Ethan Rothstein — January 6, 2015 at 2:00 pm 2,009 0

Wet Seal, the national young women’s clothing store chain, has closed its location in Ballston Common Mall amid serious money trouble at the corporate level.

The Ballston location closed over the weekend, and pieces of merchandise were still strewn about the store despite most of it laying empty yesterday.

According to a tipster, there was a handwritten sign in the window that read along the lines of, “check the internet if you want to know why we are closed. wet seal sucks! liars!” (Update at 6:30 p.m. — BuzzFeed has a photo of the sign and an interview with its creator.)

Other Wet Seal stores around the country were closed abruptly, and employees of the location that closed in Durham, N.C., also posted a sign complaining about the fashion in which the store closed and how it treated its now-jobless employees.

Bloomberg News reported last week that Wet Seal received a notice of default and owes its creditors $28.8 million by Jan. 12. The financial news site says the company’s stock price has plummeted to 5.7 cents a share, having lost 97 percent of its value in the last year. If the company’s projections hold up, it will have lost almost $240 million by the end of the fiscal year.

According to the Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio, 350 Wet Seal stores nationwide are in line to be closed. Employees in many of those stores were give just one day’s notice.

The Wet Seal location in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City remains open, and a store employee told ARLnow.com today that the Ballston location’s closure and any problems at the corporate level are “news to me.”

by Ethan Rothstein — January 5, 2015 at 1:30 pm 2,706 0

A new store specializing in upscale Swiss watches is the newest tenant in Ballston Common Mall.

Watchstyle opened in November because, as owner Eric Kim said, he was “desperate to get open for the holiday season.” He found, however, that the Ballston Mall didn’t experience quite the holiday rush that he expected. Business was steady, and remained steady after Christmas passed.

Kim offers Swiss-made watches that aren’t the most recognizable brands, but, as a former Liljenquist & Beckstead watch buyer, he says the products he offers are the “equal or better” quality and more affordable.

“The watch market has changed so much,” he told ARLnow.com last week, “Swiss watch prices have gone up a ludicrous amount with no real increase in quality.”

Watchstyle’s watches start at around $200 with Mondaine styles and go up from there. Kim said he’s the only Mondaine dealer in Virginia. He also offers watches from brands like Ball and Maurice Lacroix. Despite the Ballston Mall’s negative perception and imminent redevelopment, Kim thinks he found the right place to start his business.

“It was definitely risky, but this mall is surrounded by the right demographic for luxury watches,” Kim said. “The mall may not be ready, but the market is.”

by Ethan Rothstein — December 12, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,236 0

Microphone (photo via Wikimedia)Starting in January, Arlington Public Library is offering classes for funny people who want to develop their talent into a marketable skill.

For four consecutive Thursdays, starting Jan. 8, at 6:30 p.m., prospective stand-up comedians can take a crash course in live comedy from library manager and comedian Kerby Valladares.

The classes are at Arlington Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street), and available for online registration. According to library spokesman Peter Golkin, “space is limited and seats are going fast.”

You’ll learn how to shape your act, meet some local comics, get a feel for the area comedy scene and find out how to play to the audience,” the event listing says.

Each week, class will begin with an hour-long workshop before taking a field trip to the Comedy Spot in Ballston Common Mall for open mic night, starting at 7:30. The classes and shows are free.

Photo via Wikimedia

by ARLnow.com — December 8, 2014 at 4:50 pm 2,801 0

Capital One Bank robbery suspect (photo courtesy ACPD)The Arlington County Police Department is investigating a weekend bank robbery in Ballston.

A man robbed the Capital One Bank inside Ballston Common Mall around noon on Saturday, police say. The suspect allegedly demanded cash and fled with an undisclosed amount of money.

From an ACPD press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit, along with the FBI’s Washington Field Office, is seeking the public’s assistance in identifying a bank robbery suspect captured in surveillance footage.

On Saturday, December 6, 2014, at 12:08 p.m., an unknown male subject entered the Capital One Bank located inside the Ballston Common Mall at 4100 Wilson Boulevard in Arlington, Virginia and robbed the bank. After obtaining an undisclosed amount of money, the subject exited the bank onto the street.

The suspect is described as a black male in his mid-twenties to thirties and approximately 5’8″ tall with an average build. He was wearing a black puffy jacket, a sweatshirt underneath, a white knit cap and had head phones around his neck.

The FBI is offering a reward of up to $5,000 for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of these bank robbers.

The FBI’s Washington Field Office and the Arlington County, Virginia, Police Department are investigating this bank robbery and request that anyone with information call the FBI at 202-278-2000 or Detective Trainer with the Arlington County Police Department at 703.228.4185 or jtrain (at) arlingtonva.us To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).

by ARLnow.com — September 24, 2014 at 1:30 pm 1,296 0

Dr. Ruth Westheimer (courtesy photo)Famed octogenarian sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer is slated to speak at an event in Ballston next month.

Dr. Ruth has been added to the agenda of the Beacon 50+ Expo, to be held on the third level of Ballston Common Mall from noon to 4:00 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 26. The 86-year-old will be talking about and autographing her latest book.

The free event will also feature “expert speakers, health screenings, informative resources, technology education and entertainment for older adults and their families,” according to a press release.

More than 100 exhibitors are expected to be on hand, and “giveaways and doors prizes will be plentiful.” The keynote speaker at the event is Dr. Robert Fischell, inventor of the rechargeable pacemaker, the implantable insulin pump, and dozens of other “life-changing medical devices.”

Another 50+ Expo will be held in Maryland — at the Silver Spring Civic Center on Sunday, Oct. 19.

Courtesy photo

by Ethan Rothstein — June 24, 2014 at 11:45 am 13,675 0

(Updated at 12:25 p.m.) The future plans for the Ballston Common Mall include demolishing the Macy’s Furniture Store and parts of the current mall to build a 29-story residential tower and an open-air town center along Wilson Blvd, officials announced Monday night.

The 393-unit apartment building, at the corner of Wilson and N. Randolph Street, is projected to be completed by 2017, Ballston Business Improvement District CEO Tina Leone revealed at the BID’s annual meeting last night. Leone said the redevelopment — including a revamp of the retail mix at the mall — will be crucial for the branding of Ballston, which is often closely associated with the increasingly run-down mall.

“The mall hasn’t quite been able to serve our public,” Leone said, noting the mall’s future is the main question she gets asked about the future of Ballston development. “The mall is going to ‘de-mall’ itself. The roof is coming off.”

The mall is owned and operated by Forest City, which purchased the Macy’s Furniture Store last September. Forest City spokesman Gary McManus told ARLnow.com at the time that the mall had planned retail space with more street access in Macy’s place, and those plans now include the residential tower.

The building is expected to have four floors of underground parking and two floors of retail space below the studio, one- and two-bedroom rental apartments. The apartment building and attached parking will have a separate entrance from the restaurants and remaining mall.

Kettler Capitals Iceplex, the main Macy’s store — which will fold in the furniture store on its ground floor — the Sport&Health Club and the Regal Cinemas will all remain in the closed-air section of the mall, which is being rebranded as “Ballston Center.”

Along Wilson Blvd, parts of the mall — which originally opened as the Parkington Shopping Center in 1951 before it was rebuilt and reopened as Ballston Common Mall in 1986 — will be torn down and replaced with an open-air, town center-like plaza. Demolition is expected to begin by late 2015.

“[Forest City] thought about what was going to have the highest impact,” Leone told ARLnow.com, saying the Ballston BID has been “on a very high level” helping to form plans for the mall’s redevelopment. “To make it a town center, this is life-altering for the people who live and work here.”

McManus said that the pedestrian bridge from the mall to the current National Science Foundation headquarters across the street is tentatively slated to be torn down — private conversations between Forest City and Arlington County Board members led the mall owner to remove it from the plans — but an agreement needs to be reached with the NSF building’s property owner before that can happen.

McManus also said that the retail mix in the mall will change, to become more restaurant and entertainment-oriented. It will be aimed at serving the immediate area, not as a mall that brings in most of its shoppers from other areas, despite the fact that it will have “some destination retail, too.”

“We don’t want to compete with Tysons or Pentagon City,” McManus said. “We’ve started this project before, but this time it’s got all the momentum behind it.”

In addition to the four-level, 580,000 square foot mall’s redevelopment, Leone announced plans for changes to public spaces expected this fall, like public art projects, Ballston-branded signs lining the streets and the new Fairfax Drive landscaping ARLnow.com reported on earlier this month.

Among the proposed projects is a redesigned Metro plaza, which Leone said she hopes will include an “interactive light installation” under the Metro canopy. The light installation is being designed in Amsterdam — it will track pedestrians’ movements underneath and project light based on that movement. The Metro plaza is also planned to include an small amphitheater and redesigned bus parking to remove some buses from N. Stuart Street. (more…)

by Ethan Rothstein — February 28, 2014 at 1:30 pm 5,092 0

Bailey's in Ballston Mall closes Bailey's in Ballston Mall closes

(Updated at 1:55 p.m.) The Bailey’s Pub and Grille in Ballston Common Mall at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Randolph Street has closed, but it may not be gone for long.

A Bailey’s employee who was cleaning out the space told ARLnow.com that the restaurant is “under contract” to take over the former Union Jack’s space along N. Glebe Road, but couldn’t say for sure that the move was imminent. ARLnow.com reported the move was possible in December.

Two of the mall interior doors at Bailey’s have signs saying Bailey’s closed due to “a maintenance issue.” It’s unclear if the restaurant will actually reopen in the new space.

An ARLnow.com tipster said employees were instructed to close out their tabs yesterday and the restaurant closed abruptly during the lunch hour. Another tipster said that the restaurant is closed for good and will not be opening back up.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 20, 2013 at 2:30 pm 2,118 0

Despite the closing of the Crystal City Bailey’s Sports Grille last month and its parent company recently filing for bankruptcy, we’re told the Ballston Bailey’s will remain open, at least for now.

There are plans, however, for it to move to a new location.

According to a Bailey’s employee, the bar is planning to stay in the Ballston Common Mall, but move into the old Union Jack’s space. The employee was not able to provide any further details about reasons for the move, but confirmed that the Ballston Bailey’s will remain open and will be the only one in the D.C. area.

Right now, the plan is reportedly for Bailey’s to move into the new space this spring, possibly in April. A representative from parent company Fox and Hound could not be reached for comment.

by Ethan Rothstein — November 13, 2013 at 10:00 am 625 0

Ballston Common Mall (photo by Katie Pyzyk)On Saturday, Nov. 30, shoppers in Ballston will be able to browse offerings of local home- and online-based businesses in person at a pop-up shop.

Sponsored by the Ballston Business Improvement District, the shop will be in the Ballston BID Launchpad space, next to the mall entrance at 4238 Wilson Blvd, in the old Chevy’s Restaurant space.

The shop is being set up for the second annual Arlington Small Business Day, to be held between the major Christmas shopping days, Black Friday (Nov. 29) and Cyber Monday (Dec. 2).

The pop-up shop will be Arlington residents’ chance to meet the owners of some of their favorite local home businesses, or learn about some new ones. Among the businesses listed on ASBD’s website are Happy Doh Lucky, Bee Hive Design and Sweets for my Sweet.

There are participating small businesses all over Arlington, in Clarendon, Ballston Rosslyn/Courthouse, Columbia Pike, Crystal City, Shirlington, Cherrydale, Westover, Pentagon City, Lee Harrison and Lee Heights.

Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser

by Ethan Rothstein — September 20, 2013 at 3:30 pm 1,333 0

Ballston Common Mall (photo by Katie Pyzyk)An Indian restaurant will be opening in the food court at Ballston Common Mall as early as the first week of October.

The restaurant will be the second Arlington location of Tandoor, owned by noted Indian chef Jack Katyal. Compared to original location at 237 N. Glebe Road, the food court location will be more “fast food” style, Katyal said, and the dishes will all be $10 and under.

“We will probably have the best food available in any food court at this moment,” Katyal said.

Katyal once owned eight different Tandoor restaurants, but health complications forced him to sell all but his location on Glebe Road in Ashton Heights. Now, feeling better, he said if the Ballston Mall Tandoor location is a success, he anticipates once again expanding to more locations.

Katyal has appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s old talk show and cooked for Chelsea Clinton, claiming to be the one to introduce Americans to Tandoori cooking. A Tandoor is a clay oven that can produce more than 250 different kinds of traditional Indian recipes, Katyal said.

Tandoor passed inspection today and Katyal expects the health inspectors to approve the restaurant early next week, setting up for an opening in the first week of October.

by Katie Pyzyk — September 18, 2013 at 1:10 pm 7,117 0

Rendering of proposed redevelopment at Ballston Common Mall

A milestone has been reached on the planned revamp of Ballston Common Mall, and the makeover can now move forward. Forest City, the mall’s owner/developer/manager, has purchased the Macy’s Furniture Store.

The purchase has been in the works for months and just recently was finalized. Forest City spokesman Gary McManus said Macy’s never resisted the offer to purchase, but both sides had to devise and agree upon terms for the deal.

“Macy’s is a very big company and this had to go through all of their channels,” McManus said. “They saw the opportunity to consolidate the store, to make the operation more streamlined and get everything in one location.”

The existing Macy’s anchor store will remain, and the furniture portion will relocate into the lower level of the main store. The redevelopment plan, which was announced in February, involves tearing down the furniture store structure to rebuild it as new retail space with residences above.

McManus explained that the furniture store structure would need to be rebuilt and reinforced because currently it is not strong enough to support the addition of residences above. Should Forest City not receive approval to add the residences, the furniture store might not need to be completely demolished, but instead renovated for other retail options.

The whole mall complex will be rebranded as “Ballston Center.” In addition to all of the interior renovations, the idea is to have more stores with street entrances.

“What we’re trying to do is open it up onto the street. We’re seeing more malls with restaurants and stores and such that have entrances to the outside,” McManus said. “It’s a big trend in malls.”

Forest City is now moving forward with presenting the plans to the county. The County Board must approve the multi-phase development before construction can begin. So far, there is no timeline for approval and the beginning of construction.

by Ethan Rothstein — August 26, 2013 at 10:30 am 6,434 0

Ballston Common Mall (photo by Katie Pyzyk)Ballston Common Mall is moving closer to beginning its major renovation project.

Mall owner Forest City Enterprises is “close to finalizing a deal with Macy’s” to allow the process to move forward and the company to begin applying for permits from the county, according to Forest City spokesman Gary McManus. Securing a deal with Macy’s, one of the mall’s “anchor tenants,” was one of the last impediments to the long-awaited redevelopment.

Forest City is planning to recast the mall as Ballston Center, building more than 300 apartments on top of a renovated shopping center and adding office space. As part of the redevelopment, Forest City is negotiating with Macy’s to take over some of the department store’s space. The negotiations were initially expected to take a few weeks after the announcement of the proposed renovations, in February.

“The deal with Macy’s has taken longer than anticipated,” McManus said in an email.

He said the negotiations are close to being finalized and should be done “within the next few weeks.” Inside the mall, the changes could include a new mix of stores and restaurants.

“The tenant mix of not only the food court but the rest of the mall will be open to revision, expansion and enhancement,” said McManus.

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