If the store looks familiar to passersby, it’s because the Bazaar is one of Ballston’s inaugural stores when the mall was opened in 1986. While the store boasts artifacts from around the world with interesting back stories, it is possible that none of them have a story as interesting as the store’s owner, Vinod Goel.
Since emigrating to the United States in 1961 from India, Goel has worn many hats in his five decades: founding president of the Indo-American Chamber of Commerce, media mogul, international marketing professor, and an unofficial advisor to the India desk of the Peace Corps.
“We call him the professor around here,” says George Wong, owner of American Formal Wear, located three doors down. “He’s a mentor for the people around the mall and in the local area. He helps people find higher education and opportunities, especially for foreigners.”
“If I were to say one word about him, the word would be ‘visionary,’” said his daughter Nita Goel Popli. “He really helped to establish this community when he came here.”
Goel was a master’s student and a respected photojournalist from the Indian state of Rajasthan when he was intrigued by a travelling exhibit that came to his college entitled “Life in America.” With the advice of a noted visiting economist, Goel came over to the United States in 1961. He was 27 years old.
While an MBA student at the University of Maryland a year later, Goel was one of a number of international students invited to the White House. With just thirty seconds to make his mark on President Kennedy, Goel used his time to encourage him to put India on his agenda.
If so, Chick-fil-A has just the event for you.
Chick-fil-A’s Ballston mall and Crystal City locations, along with the chain’s 49 other D.C. area restaurants, are hosting a “Date Knight” for mothers and sons from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Monday, May 6.
“During this special medieval-themed evening, moms and their sons are encouraged to spend some time together while they enjoy dinner, great conversation and several special activities,” the company said in a press release. “Every Mother-Son pair will also receive a place mat with fun questions and topics to get the conversation started, and a take-home booklet that provides ideas for future dates and questions that both moms and their sons can ask each other.”
The “special activities” are free, but diners still have to pay for the food.
“One of Chick-fil-A’s goals is to promote community connections and enrich the lives of everyone we come in contact with,” Erik Amick, a Chick-fil-A franchise operator, said in a statement. “We understand the importance of mother-son relationships and want to encourage area moms to come to Chick-fil-A, enjoy their son’s company over a meal and have fun!”
Interested customers can make “Date Knight” reservations online. Currently, the Ballston Chick-fil-A has 53 reservations available, while Crystal City has 49 reservations remaining.
(Updated at 12:40 p.m.) Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Virginia Square (3811 Fairfax Drive) only has been open for about seven months, but owner Marcus Barnett is already expanding. He will soon open a new location in the Ballston Common Mall.
“We wanted to branch off and we were tipped off about the upcoming mall renovations,” said Barnett. “An opportunity presented itself and we wanted to be a part of that.”
The mall location will be in the food court and won’t yet feature the full menu offered at the Virginia Square location. The focus will be on smoothies, salads, breakfast and energy bars, but wraps and sandwiches will not yet be offered. Barnett said the plan is to eventually expand to a full menu, probably after the mall renovations are completed.
Although the two locations will be close in proximity, Barnett anticipates a totally different clientele.
“All those businesses in the area [Ballston], they don’t really come down to us. Even though it’s so close, just five minutes away, they don’t really come over here,” he said. “There’s a lot of new people and businesses in that area and we want to give them a healthier option.”
Tropical Smoothie Cafe should open sometime in May in the space previously occupied by Crêpe Paris.
Pentagon City Mall Renovations — Coming on the heels of the news that Ballston Common Mall will be getting a revamp, the owners of Fashion Centre at Pentagon City announced plans to renovate that mall as well. Although no formal plan has been revealed, changes could include adding office space or apartments. Renovations for the 24-year-old mall would be paid for out of a pot of about $1 billion that Simon Property Group Inc. has set aside for updating its properties. [Washington Business Journal]
Fire Hydrant Color Meaning — Arlington doesn’t have one standard color for fire hydrants; instead, the county adopted a coloring system in the 1990s indicating the flow of water at each particular hydrant. Blue hydrants have water flow above 1,500 gallons per minute (gpm), green is between 1,000 and 1,500 gpm, orange is 500 to 1,000 gpm and red is below 500 gpm. The color scheme allows firefighters to quickly determine if one hydrant will be enough to fight a fire, or if a water relay system is necessary. [Washington Post]
More Signs Requested for Westover Market — Organizers of the Westover Market believe a drop in attendance occurred for the new winter market because of the county’s sign restrictions. There has been a drop of up to 90 percent, according to organizers, and they believe the attendance would be greater if they were allowed to post more signs advertising the market. The County Board asked County Manager Barbara Donnellan to investigate the issue. [Sun Gazette]
Library Hosts Croatian Ambassador — The Central Library (1015 N. Quincy Street) will host a celebration of Croatia tonight featuring music, food, cultural displays and a visit from Croatian Ambassador Joško Paro. The event begins at 7:00 p.m. [Arlington Public Library]
Hybrid Tax Petition — Virginia Senator Adam Ebbin and Delegate Scott Surovell launched a petition to get Gov. Bob McDonnell to eliminate the so-called hybrid tax in the newly passed transportation bill. Under the bill, drivers of hybrid vehicles would have to pay a $100 fee each year. McDonnell said he’d review that portion of the bill. [NBC 4]
Mall owner Forest City Enterprises has been in the planning stages for major renovations to the 26-year-old, 580,000 square foot facility since at least 2010. Today (Wednesday) the Washington Business Journal reported that that the company revealed preliminary plans and renderings for the renovations at an industry conference in National Harbor.
“The rebranded Ballston Center at 4238 Wilson Blvd. would include more than 300 apartment units, three levels of office space and a significantly reconfigured retail space,” WBJ reported.
Tina Leone, CEO of the recently-formed Ballston Business Improvement District, said her organization is looking forward to the positive changes the redevelopment could bring to the area.
“It is very exciting and we are so pleased to be working with Forest City to further improve our wonderful neighborhood,” Leone said. “The design calls for an exterior renovation that will complement the recent developments that have occurred here, such as Shooshan Company’s Founders Square and JBG’s gorgeous 800 N. Glebe building. This change, along with the BID’s plans to beautify Wilson Boulevard, will make for a much improved, more inviting streetscape to our main street of Ballston.”
Forest City has not yet submitted its plans to Arlington County for approval.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
More Car Window Shooting Arrests — Fairfax County Police arrested two suspects accused of shooting out car windows with BB guns. Both suspects — 19-year-old Alexander Chase and 18-year-old Herbert Reyes-Cartagena — are from Arlington. Chase was arrested last month by the Arlington County Police Department and charged with similar crimes. The suspects are accused of more than 30 window shooting incidents in Fairfax County, and Chase is accused of involvement in 250 cases throughout Northern Virginia. [Washington Post]
Summer Camp Registration Begins — Registration began this morning for the summer camps offered through Arlington’s Department of Parks and Recreation. Registration can be done via mail, online or by faxing an application to 703-228-4765. Registration by phone or walk-in will begin on February 27.
Lee Highway Art Celebration — The Cherrydale and Maywood neighborhoods held a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday to celebrate new art on a median at the intersection of Lee Highway and N. Monroe Street (photo above). Local mural artist Jarrett Ferrier submitted the winning proposal for the Lee Highway Art Project. His design consists of panels depicting scenes from around the neighborhoods, such as the Cherrydale Fire Department, Cherrydale Branch Library and a railroad line that used to run along Lee Highway.
Agape Bears Closes in Ballston Mall – Agape Bears, a shop in Ballston Common Mall featuring handmade teddy bears, closed over the weekend after more than 15 years in business. Owners Elizabeth and Bill Taylor are well known not just for the store, but also for donating bears to police and fire stations, as well to victims of disasters. The Taylors plan to still sell the specialty bears online. [WTOP]
The incident happened just before 4:00 p.m. The security guards, who were employed by the mall itself, both suffered facial lacerations in the fight but no serious injuries, according to police radio traffic.
Though bruised and bloodied, there are no reports of the men being transported to the hospital or being arrested. No police report was filed, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
Police responded to the mall’s loading dock for the fight but it’s unclear where exactly in the mall the fight occurred.
The BID, formed last year after the Arlington County Board approved its creation in December 2010, is busy shaping Ballston’s identity around the area’s strength in the science and technology sector. It’s emphasizing entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity as part of its new branding campaign.
“Ballston is home to an impressive roster of influential, innovative organizations including DARPA [Defense Advanced Research Project Agency], NSF [National Science Foundation], Accenture and Virginia Tech,” the BID said in a press release. “Ballston is the place where innovation and entrepreneurship converge. Where the best ideas are discovered and thrive with the support they need to flourish.”
To help launch the branding campaign, the BID will be holding an innovation competition. The “Ballston LaunchPad Challenge,” as it’s called, will allow entrepreneurs to compete for a chance to pitch ideas to Ted Leonsis, the billionaire owner of the Washington Capitals, Wizards and Mystics. (The Capitals practice at the Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Ballston.)
After soliciting applications this month, a panel will select 10 finalists who will the work with mentors to “develop their ideas into saleable business plans.” The winner of the competition will be announced in November and will be eligible to potentially receive seed money, donated workspace and “continuing mentorship.”
On his blog, Leonsis said the competition will help Ballston become known as “a haven for startups.”
“This is a smart way to incentivize businesses to open and grow in Arlington,” he wrote.
The competition will be formally announced Thursday evening at the former Chevy’s Restaurant space (4238 Wilson Blvd) at Ballston Common Mall, which for the next 10 months will host some events connected with the contest. In addition, the BID will provide free public Wifi and seating in the restaurant’s former outdoor dining area.
Other initiatives planned by the BID include business networking events like breakfasts, lunches and happy hours; “public labeling” at the Ballston Metro station, restaurants and in the Ballston Common Mall food court; a “digital/virtual statue to showcase the innovators already working in Ballston”; public art and light installations; and the creation of mini-parks and 4-5 additional Wifi hotspots around the neighborhood.
Disclosure: Ballston BID is an ARLnow.com advertiser
It’s not clear what started the brawl, but it quickly grew in size and prompted a large police response. Six people were arrested and several people were taken to Virginia Hospital Center for injuries. At least one police officer suffered minor injuries but did not require hospitalization, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
“A huge melee broke out and spread into the mall,” Sternbeck said of the early Wednesday morning incident. “Nobody wanted to cooperate with police.”
From the ACPD daily crime report:
MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 12/05/12, 4200 block of N. Wilson Boulevard. At 1:35 am on December 5, a large fight involving several subjects broke out. As a result of this large fight, six suspects were arrested for a variety of different charges. A few of the victims/subjects were taken to Virginia Hospital Center for treatment of injuries ranging from swelling to lacerations. Mitchell Thach Khlock, 22, of Springfield, Va. was arrested on charges of obstruction of justice, resisting arrest, malicious wounding, and assault and battery. Smeth Snguon, 33, of Sterling, Va. and Vireak Snguon, 30, of Arlington, Va. were arrested and charged with assault by mob. Saloeun Chea, 28, of Alexandria, Va. was arrested on charges of malicious wounding and assault by mob. Carlos Enrique Lopez, 23, of Alexandria, Va. and Ray Shawn Banks, 23, of Arlington, Va. were arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer and disorderly conduct. All suspects are currently being held without bond.
From gift wrapping to assisting Santa, volunteers are needed to help with a number of upcoming holiday events. More information about the items listed below, as well as other volunteer opportunities, can be found online.
- The Holiday Project of the National Capital Area seeks volunteers for one-on-one visits with local nursing home residents on Christmas Day. Many of the residents will not have any other visitors during the holidays, so they consider this time a special treat. Children are welcome and pets are welcome with advance notice. For information or to sign up, contact Robin Wiley at 703-370-0370.
- Deliver gifts to local children with incarcerated parents as part of Offender Aid Restoration‘s annual Project Christmas Angel program. Volunteers pick up the gifts on Thursday, December 13 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. and deliver them from December 14 through December 23. Each child receives a gift with a personalized note from their parent. Volunteers must have a car and a valid driver’s license. A partner is suggested (though not required) because parking in some neighborhoods can be a challenge. Contact Emily Freeman at 703-228-7031.
- The Civitan Club of Arlington needs help at the Photos with Santa booth at the Ballston Mall. Volunteers are needed from now through December 24 and must be at least 15-years-old. Helpers will perform various tasks including processing orders, taking photos, printing photos and directing people through the process. Contact Leandra Finder at 703-473-7245.
- The Reading Connection (TRC) seeks “Gift Wrap for Reading” volunteers for various shifts from December 8-24. Volunteers will gift wrap purchases at the Clarendon Barnes & Noble in return for donations to TRC. Contact Stephanie Berman at 703-528-8317 x10 or sign up online.
(Updated at 1:30 p.m.) Arlington police and firefighters are on the scene outside the Ballston Common Mall for a report of a man who fell about 30 feet from the Ballston public parking garage.
The incident happened on the Glebe Road side of the parking garage, near the intersection with Carlin Springs Road. The victim is described by police as a 40-year-old white male.
Witnesses saw the man dangling from the first level of the parking garage, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. Police were called, but the man fell before they arrived on scene. He suffered a traumatic head injury and was rushed to Inova Fairfax Hospital, Sternbeck said.
According to Sternbeck, the man was involved in a hit-and-run accident on the G-4 level of the parking garage today. Investigators believe he was attempting to flee the scene when he climbed onto the ledge of the garage, but he didn’t realize how high up he was until it was too late. Sternbeck said police and paramedics have had “frequent contact” with the man in the past for alcohol-related incidents.
Police have closed down the sidewalk and blocked two out of three northbound lanes of Glebe Road while they continue to investigate.
Everybody’s talking about Sandy, but another big arrival is coming to town soon: Santa.
Simon Malls says photos with Santa will begin two weeks from today, on Friday, Nov. 9, at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City (1100 S. Hayes Street).
The Jolly Old Elf will be available for photos at Pentagon City mall through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. He’ll also be present for a special holiday shopping night from 6:00 to 9:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15, and available for photos with pets (no exotic pets, please) from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Nov. 25 through Dec. 2.
St. Nick’s arrival in Arlington is a bit earlier than last year. His appearances at Pentagon City mall last year started on Nov. 12, 2011. No word on when Santa will be coming to Ballston Common Mall, but last year his first appearance in Ballston was scheduled for Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving.
Mental Evaluation for Fire Bomb Suspect — Lawyers for Leon Traille, Jr., the man accused of trying to fire bomb the Ballston Common Mall food court last week, have asked the federal judge in the case to grant a mental health evaluation. Traille is charged with arson and faces 5 to 20 years in prison if convicted. [Washington Post]
Disturbance at Arlington Screening of ‘Hating Breitbart’ — A liberal activist is accused of disrupting the Friday night showing of the documentary Hating Breitbart at the Regal theater at Ballston Common Mall. Moviegoers say the activist, Ryan Clayton, shouted at the screen and laughed loudly at inappropriate times during the film about the late conservative media icon. [The Hollywood Reporter]
D.C. Sniper’s Ex-Wife Talks at Ft. Myer — Mildred T. Muhammad, the ex-wife of executed D.C. sniper John Allen Muhammad, spoke earlier this month at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall. Muhammad, who was abused by her ex-husband, was the guest speaker at the base’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month observance. [U.S. Army]
New ‘Car Free Diet’ Video — Arlington County Commuter Services has commissioned a new series of videos for its ‘Car Free Diet’ campaign. The theme of the videos is “What’s Your One?” — and they make the case for walking, biking or taking public transit instead of driving. The videos will play on Arlington TV, the county’s cable channel, and prior to movie previews a the Regal Ballston Common and the AMC Loews Shirlington theaters. Disclosure: ACCS is an ARLnow.com advertiser. [YouTube]
Flickr pool photo by ddimick
Arlington County Police, the county bomb squad and FBI agents are on the scene at the Woodbury Park Apartments, on the 2200 block of 11th Street N. near Clarendon, searching the apartment of Leon A. Traille, Jr.
Video of the search, courtesy of Fox 5, can be found below. So far, there’s no indication that the apartment building has been evacuated, but the investigators are still on the scene. Bomb technicians entered the apartment via the window.
Social media accounts linked to Traille, along with public records, suggest he’s an out-of-work computer programmer who has previously lived in Georgia, Oregon and New York City.
DC Breaking Local News Weather Sports FOX 5 WTTG
Arlington County Police have filed charges against the suspect in yesterday’s attempted fire bombing of the Ballston Common Mall food court.
Leon A. Traille, Jr., 29, of no fixed address, has been charged with reckless endangerment, attempted malicious bodily injury by use of fire, and use of a fire bomb.
Traille is due in Arlington County Court this morning for a preliminary hearing. Traille is still being interviewed by federal investigators, but Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck said he has so far not been very cooperative. Federal charges, which may supersede the local charges, have also been filed (see below).
Sternbeck said the crime Traille is accused of — tossing a glass bottle, with a lit wick and containing a flammable liquid, into the mall food court — was likely not an act of terrorism.
“Right now we don’t believe it’s an act of terrorism,” he said. “It’s more like it’s an act of stupidity.”
The LinkedIn account for an individual with the same name and age as Traille says he’s a computer programmer who has been out of work since Aug. 2011. According to public records, Traille has previously lived in Georgia and Oregon. A public records search turned up no prior criminal history.
Update at 12:35 p.m. — Traille is being now facing a federal arson charge, which carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison if he’s convicted. The U.S. Attorney’s office has released the criminal complaint against Traille and issued the following press release.
Leon Alphans Traille Jr., 29, has been charged with committing arson for allegedly throwing a Molotov cocktail into the food court area of the Ballston Common Mall in Arlington, Va.
Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Richard W. Marianos, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division; James W. McJunkin, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office; and M. Douglas Scott, Arlington Chief of Police, made the announcement.
Traille was taken into custody on Oct. 18, 2012, and was charged through a federal criminal complaint this morning with arson, which carries a mandatory minimum of five years and a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, if convicted. He will make an initial appearance at 2 p.m. before United States Magistrate Judge Theresa C. Buchanan in Alexandria federal court.
According to an affidavit filed with the criminal complaint, a man possessing a distinctive gray and red backpack threw a lit improvised explosive device, sometimes called a Molotov cocktail, into the food court area of Ballston Common Mall in Arlington. The device – a brown glass bottle fixed with matches – did not explode, but it produced a flame that was extinguished. After throwing the device, the man proceeded to the second floor skyway area of the shopping mall and dropped a bag containing three additional Molotov cocktails before exiting the mall.
The complaint alleges that witnesses who saw the man throwing the device provided law enforcement with a description matching that of Traille, and a video surveillance system allegedly caught a picture of Traille as he exited the shopping mall. He was apprehended yesterday afternoon in a public area nearby the mall in possession of the gray and red bag.
This case was investigated by the ATF’s Washington Field Division, FBI’s Washington Field Office, and the Arlington Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Fitzpatrick of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia’s National Security and International Crime Unit.
Criminal complaints are only charges and not evidence of guilt. A defendant is presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty.