Last week, we reported on a gift shop in Ballston that had been robbed not once but twice by the same armed robber.
It turns out, the same guy has actually robbed the store three times in the past month or so.
Police say the man, pictured above, robbed the City News and Gift Shop inside 950 N. Stafford Street on Nov. 8, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4. The first time, he displayed a handgun and demanded money. The second time, he displayed a “large kitchen knife” and demanded money and Newport cigarettes. The third time, he again flashed a gun and demanded money.
Arlington County Police are seeking the public’s help in identifying the man. The police department’s press release, below.
The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is asking for the public’s assistance in identifying an armed robbery suspect who has robbed a Ballston convenience store on three occasions and has been captured on surveillance video.
On November 8, 2014, the suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop located inside 950 N. Stafford Street at approximately 3:10 PM. The suspect was wearing black pants and was layered in a Washington Nationals jacket over a red and white striped polo shirt which was over a black hoodie. The suspect displayed a handgun tucked into his front waistband and demanded money. After the robbery, the suspect fled towards Fairfax Drive.
On December 3, 2014, it is believed that the same suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop at approximately 2:55 pm. This time the suspect was wearing black pants and a black jacket layered over a tan hoodie. The suspect displayed a large kitchen knife, demanded money and Newport brand cigarettes before fleeing towards the Ballston Metrorail station.
On December 4, 2014, the same suspect entered the City News and Gift Shop at approximately 8:20 pm. The suspect appeared to be wearing the same clothing as the day before with blue jeans. During this robbery, the suspect again displayed a handgun before demanding money. It is believed that the suspect fled again towards the Ballston Metrorail station after the robbery.
The suspect is described as a black male in his 20s-30s, approximately 5’8″ to 5’10″ tall, with a medium build. In all three robberies, he appears to be wearing black and white soled tennis shoes, similar to Converse All-Stars, and a black beanie-style winter cap.
There were no reported injuries during any of these armed robberies
If anyone has information on the identity and/or whereabouts of this individual, please contact Detective P. Mulvaney of the Arlington County Homicide/Robbery Unit at (703) 228-4239 or email@example.com. Anonymous tips can also be provided through the Arlington County Crime Solvers Hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
A man stole $450 at knifepoint on Wednesday, Dec. 3, then came back the next day and stole $400 at gunpoint, according to police.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
ARMED ROBBERY, 141203034, 900 block of N Stafford St, On 12/3/14 at 1501 hours, an unknown male entered the store and demanded money from the victim at knife point. The suspect was given $450.00 from the cash register then fled on foot towards the Ballston Metro. The victim confirmed this was the same suspect who robbed this store several weeks ago. The suspect is described as as black male, 5’08″-5’10″, medium build, 170 lbs, wearing a black coat with leather sleeves, black pants, a black beanie, a tan hoodie pulled halfway over the beanie, and black shoes with white soles. The knife is described as a large kitchen knife, 8-10″ in length with a black handle and silver blade. The suspect was seen entering the Metro platform through the handicap gate without paying and jumping on a train just prior to police arrival.
ARMED ROBBERY,141204049, 900 block of N Stafford St, On 12/4/14 at 2020 hours, an unknown male entered and robbed the gift shop at gunpoint. After the clerk gave the subject $400.00, the subject fled on foot towards the Ballston Metro. The subject is described as a black male, 5’08″-5’10″, medium build, a tan hoodie underneath a black leather coat, blue jeans, black beanie, and black shoes with white soles. The gun was held in the subject’s right hand. It is believed this is the same subject that robbed the store yesterday at knife point.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
The thefts took place on Monday the 1100 blocks of N. Randolph Street and N. Vermont Street, and on the 4100 and 4400 blocks of Washington Blvd.
Police say as many as 10 packages sent to those addresses were found opened and tossed into nearby bushes. The perpetrator may have been spotted by a local resident, but was able to flee the scene.
“A witness told police he observed a subject walking around in a narrow walkway typically used by residents only,” according to a crime report. “The witness initiated contact with the subject who provided vague answers then left the area quickly. The subject is described as a black male, early 20′s, 6’01″, thin build, wearing a dark colored winter hat with a thin white line around the top, and carrying a large black or blue duffel bag.”
A man roughly fitting that description was spotted by a resident in Ballston this afternoon, running with an Amazon.com box. Police are on the scene, looking for the suspect.
ACPD spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm says package thefts seem to be prevalent during the holidays.
“Our District Team is aware of these cases and will be working on notifying the community to be vigilant during the holidays for this type of criminal activity,” Malcolm said. “I have seen several stories in the media recently about ‘package thefts’ so these are not uncommon thefts during the holiday season.”
Malcolm noted that the call to police on Monday was placed too late, and asked residents to report suspicious activity when they see it.
“Unfortunately there was a substantial delay in reporting the suspicious person,” he said. “We would like to remind members of our community to report suspicious activity to the Emergency Communications Center, 703.558.2222, whenever they see something.”
Fmr. Pentagon Police Chief Dies — Richard Keevill, the former chief of the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, died Saturday. Keevill served as chief of the Pentagon police agency from 2004 to 2013. Prior to that, he served with the Marines in Vietnam and later was the 1st Sergeant in charge of the Virginia State Police station on Columbia Pike. On Sept. 11, 2001, he ran into the still-burning Pentagon several times to search for survivors. Keevill died of natural causes. His funeral is planned for Saturday. [Facebook]
Redevelopment May Close Carpool — Developer Penzance and real estate investor Lionstone are working to close a deal to acquire and redevelop the Carpool property in Ballston. The long-time Arlington bar was previously slated to be redeveloped eight years ago but those plans fell through in part due to the recession. [Washington Business Journal]
Another Landlord Spat for Ray’s Owner — Ray’s Hell Burger Michael Landrum has gotten into another landlord-tenant dispute, this time with the owner of a building in D.C. that’s set to house his new restaurant, tentatively called Steaks in the City. Landrum was kicked out of his Ray’s Hell Burger locations in Rosslyn in 2013 following a dispute with his then-landlord. [Eater]
Christmas Beer Event in Courthouse — Fire Works Pizza (2350 Clarendon Blvd) in Courthouse will be hosting a tap takeover dubbed the 12 Beers of Christmas tonight. Starting at 5:00 p.m., the restaurant will offer holiday beers from St. Bernardus, Port City, Great Lakes and other brewers. The event is open to the public. [Fire Works Pizza]
Flickr pool photo by Joseph Gruber. Disclosure: Fire Works Pizza is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
(Updated at 3:55 p.m.) Arlington County’s hazmat team investigated a chemical leak this afternoon following an equipment malfunction at the Harris Teeter grocery store at 600 N. Glebe Road in Ballston.
Firefighters were initially dispatched to the store at 2:34 p.m. for a report of smoke coming from the rear of the building, a chemical odor and some reporting a burning sensation in their eyes.
According to Arlington County Fire Department spokesman Deputy Fire Marshal Brian McGraw, the problem came from a water treatment system that was filtering water for a tank of live lobsters. The system overheated and partially melted. In the process, a chemical — “a type of bromate,” McGraw said — heated and turned into a large vapor cloud.
The system was in a storage room in the back of the store and medics treated a vendor who “breathed in a large amount” of the vapor, McGraw said. The vendor declined an ambulance transport. McGraw said minimal exposure to the chemical is harmless, and customers and employees are now being allowed back into the store.
A health inspector is en route to evaluate whether any food might be contaminated.
The man robbed the Presidential Bank at 901 N. Stuart Street around 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10, according to investigators.
“The subject entered the bank through a set of doors closest to the Ballston Metro station, approached a bank teller and passed a note that demanded money,” the FBI said. “The subject exited the bank with an undisclosed amount of money.”
Most recently, around 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 4, the man is accused of robbing the Premier Bank at 1604 17th Street NW in D.C. He allegedly passed a note to a teller and fled after receiving cash.
Investigators say the suspect is about 30 years old, Middle Eastern and between 6’0″ and 6’5″.
“The suspect is described as having short black hair, unshaven, wearing a grey or brown suit, a white button-down shirt without a tie and sunglasses,” according to the FBI. “During the Dec. 4 robbery in Washington, D.C., the subject was wearing a scarf around his neck. During the Nov. 10 robbery in Arlington, the subject was described as carrying a black leather briefcase or laptop bag.”
The FBI is offering up to a $5,000 reward for information that leads to the identification, arrest and conviction of the robber. Anyone with information on the crime is encouraged to call the FBI at 202-278-2000 or the Arlington County Crime Solvers tip line at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).
(Updated at 3:40 p.m.) Pizza Vinoteca, the latest restaurant flocking to Ballston, is planning to open next Thursday, Dec. 11.
The restaurant, at 800 N. Glebe Road, is still waiting for its liquor license — it expects it to arrive early next week — but CEO Ari Malcolm of the New York-based business was able to give ARLnow.com a tour of Pizza Vinoteca’s second location.
“The concept is trying to elevate fast-casual,” he said. “We’re first and foremost a dine-in restaurant, but it’s pizza — we want people be relaxed and have fun here.”
The pizzas are grilled, Providence, Rhode Island-style, made for one and cost between $10 and $14.50. There are 36 wines, all available by the glass and mostly on tap in their custom-designed system, which uses argon gas to keep wines fresh. All of the glasses cost $10 or less and are available in half-glasses. There will also be seven craft beers available and house cocktails, include a frozen vodka, prosecco and lemon sorbet creation.
Pizza Vinoteca will also deliver and offers takeout.
Malcolm got his start working his way up from server to the business side of the restaurant industry, and the native New Yorker said he takes his restaurant “very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves too seriously.” He said his favorite item on the menu is the jowlciale pizza, which is a smoked, cured pork cheek from a Virginia farm accompanied by spicy chili pesto, fontina cheese, pistachio and honey.
“Composed thought goes into all our pizza,” he said. “I wanted to hate our Hawaiian pizza because I think canned pineapple and ham. But ours has fresh pineapple, prosciutto and peppers. It’s unfortunately really tasty.”
The pizzas are made on a grill that Malcolm helped design, which uses three kinds of heat, including infrared, to grill the whole wheat flatbread pizzas in less than three minutes. The grill can get as hot as 800 degrees when fully cooking, Malcolm said.
“Our product is so different from what the people in this neighborhood are doing,” he said. “We like the competition, because it just means more people are coming to Ballston to eat.”
The Maxwell Apartments, the six-story apartment building at the corner of N. Glebe and Carlin Springs Road, is planning to open on Dec. 12.
Marketed by Bozzuto, the apartments are currently available for lease, an employee told ARLnow.com today. When open, the building will feature a fitness center; a lounge with shuffleboard, billiards and a bar area; a private courtyard with an outdoor fireplace, grills and a prep sink; and a business center with conference rooms, Internet and a printer.
Once named the Crimson at Glebe apartments, the Maxwell replaced the Goodyear across from the Ballston Common Mall and a block away from the Harris Teeter in Ballston. Coming to the building’s ground floor will be a Solidcore gym, which focuses on low-impact group training.
There are approximately 150 apartments ranging from studios to two-bedrooms with dens. One-bedroom apartments are currently leasing for more than $1,900, and two bedrooms are leasing starting at upwards of $2,800.
Sixteen new townhouses could be coming near the corner of Washington Blvd and N. Stuart Street in Ballston, tearing down several single family homes in the process.
The project, called the Ballston Oak Townhomes, would build two, eight-unit buildings with four stories and private garage parking between 1124 and 1138 N. Stuart Street. The property’s owner is an LLC registered to Eric Ritland, the owner of home construction company Georgetown Builders.
According to the preliminary site plan, reviewed by ARLnow.com, Georgetown Builders intends to tear down four homes on N. Stuart Street, but leave the Arlington Market — one of the few stores in the area that sells kegs of beer — untouched at its location on the corner of the two streets.
The townhouses are designed to include private patios and a “herringbone brick design.” There are two garage parking spots for each unit proposed, with four guest spaces in the rear of the half-acre lot. No renderings of the design were included with the preliminary site plan.
“The project was envisioned as a ‘series of urban gardens,’ and its design incorporates private trellises, stormwater planters, gardens for residents to enjoy throughout, as well as gardens along the sidewalk to beautify the pedestrian experience, and plans for green roofs with roof decks and interior gardens,” the application states.
The developer proposes incorporating public art into the project or making a donation to Arlington’s Public Art Fund. There’s no word on when the site plan will be finalized and go before the Arlington Planning Commission or the County Board.
The restaurant will be called Yona, and unlike the under-construction Kapnos Taverna and Pepita, Isabella won’t be found anywhere near the kitchen. Instead, Jonah Kim — formerly the executive chef at PABU Izakaya, now closed, in Baltimore — will bring his take on the traditional noodle dish to Ballston, with a planned opening in spring 2015.
“The restaurant is going to focus around ramen,” Kim told ARLnow.com today. “It’s like Asian comfort food. Noodles and broth, it’s the Asian spaghetti and meatballs. The perception of ramen is like the cheap college kid, that’s what you’re surviving on, but ramen is such a huge tradition in Japan.”
During the lunch hour — which Kim expects to be busy, based on the number of offices in the surrounding area — the menu will feature quick dishes and takeout. In the evening, the 1,500-square-foot space will become more of a sitdown restaurant. Kim said the number of ramen dishes on the menu will shrink and there will be more small plates available.
The restaurant will also have a full bar, with sake, shochu and Japanese whiskey, along with cusotm cocktails, Kim said.
While ramen has become a trendy restaurant specialty in New York, the District and even border jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, when it opens, Yona is believed to be the first ramen-focused restaurant in Arlington. Kim says Ballston is the perfect spot for it.
“I think the dining scene is definitely growing with everything else,” Kim said. “We’re about offering more choices to the neighborhood. I think the demographic there works for this kind of concept as well. I think that whole area is dying for more food, more dining options.”
Isabella is now highly invested in the area, and in a press release he said that Yona will be another component of bringing Ballston to the forefront of the restaurant scene in the D.C. metropolitan area.
“The Ballston food scene is growing as fast as its business district,” he said in the release. “By the time we’re done, Ballston will be the next dining destination for Northern Virginia and D.C.”
Photo (top) via Google Maps. Photo (bottom) by Greg Powers.
Japanese Noodle Bar Coming to Ballston — Yona, a new Japanese noodle bar and Korean-inspired small plates restaurant, is coming to 4000 Wilson Blvd in Ballston. It will be the third restaurant from restaurateur Mike Isabella in the building. Isabella’s Kapnos Tavern is expected to open there next month and his Pepita cantina is expected to open in the first quarter of 2015. [Washington Post]
Leonsis Praises Ballston — Capitals and Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is a big fan of Ballston, where the Capitals have their Kettler Capitals Iceplex practice facility. In a blog post responding to reports about the Wizards looking for a practice facility in either D.C. or Arlington, Leonsis wrote that “we feel fortunate that [the Capitals] ended up in the welcoming community of Ballston.” [Ted's Take]
Wakefield Wins First Playoff Game — The Wakefield Warriors football squad celebrated its first-ever playoff victory on Friday. Wakefield will next face undefeated Tuscarora in the second round of the 5A North Region playoffs. Washington-Lee and Yorktown both lost their first-round playoff games. [InsideNova]
‘State of Affairs’ Producer Lives in Arlington — Rodney Faraon, a father of three whose 14 years as a CIA analyst helped inspire the NBC drama “State of Affairs,” is an Arlington resident. Faraon serves as an executive producer on the show, which premiered last night. [Washingtonian, WNEW]
Plane Complaints Explained? — Over the past couple of years, numerous Arlington residents have made occasional complaints about hearing what sounded like a single-engine plane flying overhead for an extended period of time. At the time, there was no ready explanation for who or what might be flying around Arlington. However, some now think those planes might have been flying for a recently-revealed Justice Department cell phone spying program.
Soccer Tourney For At-Risk Kids — A 9th annual soccer tournament for at-risk kids was held in Arlington on Sunday. [WTOP]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
Changes are coming to the plaza surrounding the Ballston Metro station.
Arlington County is in the process of designing improvements to the plaza and gathering public input. The improvements are intended to reduce bus congestion, enhance pedestrian safety, prepare for future population growth and make the plaza more functional and aesthetically attractive.
Metrorail ridership is expected to increase by nearly 50 percent at the station between 2010 and 2020, while bus ridership is expected to increase 20 percent. Cyclist use of the plaza, currently a relatively small percentage of transportation uses, is expected to rise by 200 percent during that time period.
Plans so far include increased bike parking, new bus stops and new sidewalk cafes. The plans call for moving tree planters closer to the curb to improve pedestrian circulation and enhance retail viability.
A public meeting about the changes was held at Arlington Public Library earlier this week. Residents were generally supportive, but objected to a proposal to narrow a side street that’s currently clogged with bus and taxi traffic.
Project engineering is expected to wrap up next fall, with construction beginning in early 2016, according to Arlington Dept. of Environmental Services spokesman Eric Balliet. Separately, the county also has a long-range plan for a second Ballston Metro station entrance.
After the jump, a list of goals for the project, from the county’s public presentation.
The eyes have it. A new art installation featuring interactive LED-lit eyes launched today at the final Ballston Farmers Market of the season.
The display is called “The Eyes of Ballston” and users interact with it through their mobile device. The concept is that five characters live in the tree in the middle of Welburn Square — the baby, the grannie, the flirt, the grump and the raver — and they look at users through the interactive eyes.
Visitors stand near the tree and answer a character’s questions on their mobile device, to which the character responds via the eyes. The character will display different emotions depending on the user’s answer. They can perform numerous actions, including crying, winking and blowing a kiss. Each character has a circadian rhythm, so they’re not all awake and interacting with people at all hours of the day.
“I want them [users] to have fun and interact and enjoy public art, and understand that a great piece of public art is great for place-making and bringing people together,” said artist Lola Lombard, who came up with the eyes concept. “It’s showing them it’s OK to have a little fun. I like my artwork to always have a sense of humor and I think this does that.”
More than 3,000 LED lights, hundreds of feet of wiring, a metal structure and a Linux-based computer make up the project’s technical components.
“It’s really nice to make this stuff as art,” said Branden Hall, whose role focused on the electronic aspects of the art display. “It’s nice to make people smile, I really enjoy that.”
The display is part of the Ballston BID’s “Public Displays of Innovation” series, which also includes the lifeguard chairs placed throughout Ballston.
“We want to bring the amazing creativity and imagination of the people who live and work in Ballston to the street level,” said Ballston BID CEO Tina Leone. “We weren’t even sure at first if it could be done. I didn’t realize it was going to be this cool. It makes you stop to think about how you interact with your neighborhood.”
Sen. Tim Kaine showed up at the farmers market, campaigning for County Board candidate Alan Howze. He checked out the electronic eyes and said he likes the idea of having more public art in communities.
“Why not make communities beautiful?” Kaine said. “I think art, and it doesn’t have to be expensive, I think it makes people feel better about the place where they live.”
The interactive eyes will be in Welburn Square through November.
Italian restaurant Tutto Bene, at 501 N. Randolph Street in Ballston, across from Ballston Common Mall, is now closed.
Owner Orlando Murillo posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page that its last day open was Sept. 29, and a sign on the restaurant’s front door reads “We’re going out of business as of 09/29/2014.” Murillo said in his post that the restaurant never recovered from the recession, despite the continued growth of Ballston’s food scene.
“The great economical problem that hit us since 2009 was [the] number one problem and not easy to resolve,” Murillo wrote. “We were hoping that in a couple years we will come back on our feet, but that never happened. It was very sad to see how things were going down hill and all the progress coming to Arlington bring the increases that we were not able to overcome.”
“On September 30, 2014 we decide that there was no way for us to continue in business, and it was an extremely sad day for me and my employees. The fact that they stayed with me from the first day to the last, 26 years together living every day as a big family I will keep all of them deeply in my heart.”
The restaurant drew rave reviews from Washington Post food critic Tom Sietsema in 2004 for both its Italian food and its special Bolivian food offerings on the weekend. There’s no word on what will replace it.
Police say a 31-year-old woman was driving through the Ballston area around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday (October 4), when the suspect pulled up behind her and turned on a rotating red light on his dashboard. The victim pulled over on N. 11th Street near Quincy Park and the suspect approached her car, displaying a badge. The man reportedly told the victim to get out of her car and go with him to the police station. The woman was skeptical and stayed in her car. She told the man she was going to call the police to have an officer in uniform respond to the scene. At that point, the man took off in his car.
“This suspect had the intention of getting the victim into his vehicle,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “If something doesn’t seem right to you, trust your instincts and contact police. This woman’s actions likely kept her from being abducted.”
ACPD will confirm if a traffic stop is legitimate for any citizen who calls the police non-emergency line at 703-558-2222.
The police impersonator is described as a black man, around 6′ tall and 200 pounds. He was driving an older, dark colored car that appeared to be a Crown Victoria or a similar car resembling an unmarked police vehicle.
Anyone with information about this incident should contact ACPD Detective Conigliaro at 703-228-4193 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477).