Arlington Photos Highlighted as Example of Why Microsoft CEO is Retiring — Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, announced in August that he will be stepping down within a year and two photos taken at the Pentagon City mall are being touted as an example of why. The first photo shows an empty Microsoft Store at the mall this past Sunday (December 8) during prime holiday shopping season. The next photo shows a packed Apple Store at the same mall. [Slate]
Parents Claim Incompatible Programs at Drew Model School — Parents who have students at Drew Model School (3500 23rd Street S.) told the County Board last week that the school’s dual focus — a traditional elementary school program and a separate Montessori program — are becoming incompatible. The parents say having the two different programs operate under the same roof stresses both. [Sun Gazette]
Opening Statements in Arlington Sheriff’s Deputy Murder Trial — The murder trial for Arlington County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Patterson began on Monday with opening statements from attorneys on both sides. Patterson is accused of shooting and killing Julian Dawkins during a confrontation in May. [Alexandria Times]
Google Doodle Commemorates Former Arlington Resident — Monday’s Google Doodle commemorated Grace Hopper’s 107th birthday. Hopper, who used to live in Pentagon City, was a pioneering computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. According to Wikipedia, “Grace Murray Hopper Park, located on South Joyce Street in Arlington, Virginia, is a small memorial park in front of her former residence (River House Apartments) and is now owned by Arlington County, Virginia.” [Google]
The Arlington County Board unanimously approved the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City’s request to expand and offer outdoor restaurant seating at its meeting on Saturday.
The mall, owned by Simon Property Group, will add 51,000 square feet along S. Hayes Street — two stories with space for 5-7 retail tenants whose entrances would be on the street.
The expansion will be built on the east façade of the mall, adjacent to the entrance to the Pentagon City Metro Station. As part of the construction, the mall is expected to make pedestrian and bicycle safety improvements along S. Hayes Street, Army Navy Drive and 15th Street.
“This expansion plan for one of the region’s most popular malls fits perfectly with the County’s goal of making Pentagon City a more lively, walkable area,” County Board Chairman Walter Tejada said in a press release. “Bringing new shops and restaurants to S. Hayes Street will be good for the mall and good for the neighborhood.”
Image via Arlington County
Board to Consider Mall Expansion Plan — The Arlington County Board is expected to vote on the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City’s expansion plans at its Saturday meeting. County staff is recommending approval of the plan, which would about 50,000 square feet of space for 5-7 new retail tenants to the front of the mall.
Shopping Center Cost $250k in 1940 — The strip mall at the northeast corner of Columbia Pike and Glebe Road represented an investment of $250,000 in 1940. At the time, traffic volume on Columbia Pike was about 12,000 cars per day and traffic volume on Glebe Road was about 600 cars per day. [Ghosts of DC]
Reminder: Yellow Line Closed This Weekend — The Yellow Line will be shut down this weekend for the annual safety inspection of the Yellow Line bridge over the Potomac River. The closure will begin at about 10:00 tonight (Friday).
Optimist Club Christmas Tree Sale Two Weeks Away — The Optimist Club of Arlington will kick off its annual Christmas tree sale on Saturday, Nov. 30. The sale will be held in the Wells Fargo parking lot at the corner of Lee Highway and Glebe Road. [Sun Gazette]
Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann
The leader of a smash-and-grab robbery crew that committed more than 20 robberies around the D.C. area, including one at the Tourneau store in the Pentagon City mall, has received a lengthy jail sentence.
District resident Walter Douglas, 34, was sentenced to 20 years in prison and, along with his co-defendants, ordered to pay $1.25 million in restitution. From the U.S. Attorney’s office:
Walter Douglas, 34, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 240 months in prison for his role in a series of smash-and-grab robberies. Douglas and his co-defendants were also ordered to pay $1,251,978.75 in restitution to the victims of these robberies.
Dana J. Boente, Acting United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Valerie Parlave, Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office; Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr., Fairfax County Chief of Police; M. Douglas Scott, Arlington County Chief of Police; and J. Thomas Manger, Montgomery County Chief of Police, made the announcement after sentencing by United States District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema.
Douglas pleaded guilty on August 8, 2013. According to court documents, Douglas was a leader of a smash-and-grab robbery crew that committed over twenty robberies in the Washington, D.C. area and elsewhere. The crew entered various high-end retail establishments as a group, and through force and intimidation, stole merchandise from the stores. Douglas and his crew stole over $1,000,000 in merchandise during the robbery spree from retailers such as Tourneau, Cartier, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Neiman Marcus.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the Fairfax County, Arlington County, and Montgomery County Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Fahey and Special Assistant United States Attorney Edward Reilly prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.
The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is planning a 50,000 square foot expansion that will add new street-facing retail space to the front of the mall.
The plan is being presented to Arlington’s Site Plan Review Committee tonight (Wednesday). The meeting is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. at the Walter Reed Community Center (2909 16th Street S.)
The expansion would eliminate some of the driveway in front of the mall, facing S. Hayes Street, and replace it with a two-level addition featuring 46,000 square feet of lease-able space for 5-7 tenants. In a presentation, mall owner Simon Property Group says it plans to market the outward-facing retail bays to “fashion retail, fast casual dining and restaurants.”
As proposed, the facade of the addition will be largely curved, featuring glass, tapered metal panels and limestone. Along the outside of the curved portion of the addition will be outdoor cafe-style seating.
No word yet on when the site plan amendment required for the project to proceed will reach the Arlington County Board for consideration.
On the first stop of her nationwide personal appearance tour, Cole will take part in a meet and greet from 5:00-6:30 p.m. at the Steve Madden store in the Pentagon City mall. She’s promoting her partnership with the shoe designer, which has resulted in the new shoe line.
Cole will be on hand to autograph free branded tote bags while a DJ provides music. Guests can meet and take photos with Cole. Anyone who purchases a product from the new shoe line during Cole’s appearance will get a free compact mirror and access to special surprise gifts.
C. Wonder, which sells women’s clothing, jewelry, home décor and personal electronics, will be opening on the ground floor of the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, occupying half of the space formerly occupied by Sephora.
The Pentagon City location is C. Wonder’s second in Virginia after its Tysons Corner location. The New York City-based brand launched in 2011.
C. Wonder’s store will be separated into what it calls “an emporium of themed rooms” – American Dream, Jewelry, English Garden and Contemporary Prep — and allows for mobile checkout throughout the store.
On Thursday, Sept. 12, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m., the mall will offer several activities geared toward women, including makeovers and food tastings. The event is free and attendees are encouraged to bring friends “to relax, unwind, socialize, shop be pampered and get reacquainted.”
Among the activities offered at the event are makeup tutorials and advice from professionals; food samplings; special one-night-only deals from retailers; a swag bag with free samples and coupons for the first 100 registrants; two raffles at 7:00 and 8:00 p.m., with prizes including $500 in mall gift cards.
The event is co-sponsored by Diet Coke and the British Virgin Islands.
Fish and Wildlife Service Nears Lease Deal in Falls Church — Vornado Realty Trust is reportedly close to securing a lease deal that would move the Fish and Wildlife Service out of Ballston and into Falls Church. The deal would send the agency’s 2,100 employees to 5275 Leesburg Pike in the Skyline area. [Washington Business Journal]
Man Pleads Guilty in Pentagon City Robbery – Walter Douglas, who was arrested in June, has pleaded guilty to a string of smash and grab robberies, including the March 19 Tourneau store robbery at the Pentagon City mall. Douglas admitted he was an organizer of the group that allegedly carried out the robberies, and he pleaded guilty to a federal robbery charge and a robbery-conspiracy charge. He reports the group stole between $800,000 and $1.5 million in high end goods. Douglas will be sentenced on November 8. [Washington Post]
Police Seek Assistance Identifying Thieves — The Arlington County Police Department is requesting the public’s help with identifying two people accused of entering office buildings and stealing wallets. The two are believed to have taken part in a wallet theft in the 4600 block of N. Fairfax Drive on June 25, and another on the 1600 block of N. Wilson Blvd on July 8. They were caught on surveillance video using the stolen credit cards at a CVS store. Surveillance photos of the suspects and police contact information can be found on the press release. [Arlington County Police Department]
Arlington Band Makes Fortune Magazine’s Finals — An in-house rock band at Excella Consulting, a technology consulting firm based in Courthouse, is a finalist in Fortune magazine’s 13th annual Battle of the Corporate Bands. The band, Detached Retina, will compete at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on September 28, along with seven other finalists. The contest’s proceeds benefit the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [Excella Consulting]
On the eve of the Fourth of July, police say a man snatched a ring and a number of loose diamonds from a clerk at the Helzberg Diamonds store in Pentagon City Mall.
From this week’s Arlington County crime report:
ROBBERY, 07/03/13, 1400 block of S. Hayes St. At 7:45 pm on July 3 an unknown suspect grabbed a ring and loose diamonds from a clerk at the Helzberg Diamonds store. Suspect is described as a black male, 5’8, 170 lbs. wearing a long sleeved blue shirt and khaki pants.
The rest of the crime report, after the jump.
A man has been arrested and charged in connection with the March 19 smash and grab robbery at Pentagon City mall.
As seen in the above surveillance video released by the Arlington County Police Department, four suspects entered the Torneau store and broke the jewelry case with Rolex watches. The FBI has since taken over the case, and said the suspects got away with 22 watches worth more than $500,000 before fleeing to a getaway car with a fifth suspect.
Last week, Walter A. Douglas was arrested in connection with the robbery, claiming he “did knowingly and unlawfully, conspire, confederate, and agree to delay and affect commerce and the movement of articles and commodities in such commerce, by robbery.” According to the FBI affidavit, Douglas has a history of robbery, grand theft and grand larceny in the D.C. metro area. The document connects him to seven other high profile robberies in the region between December 3, 2012, and April 30, 2013, for which he has also been charged.
The affidavit states that an informant contacted the ACPD on April 10 and claimed Douglas was responsible for the Pentagon City robbery, and possibly for others. The informant reported hearing Douglas speaking with another man, the recently arrested Floyd Davis, about high end watches and rings.
Davis was reportedly arrested early last month, but the list of alleged crimes in his affidavit did not directly name the Pentagon City incident. Davis was, however, mentioned in the Douglas affidavit for having been in the immediate area and in contact with Douglas around the time of the Torneau robbery.
Evidence against the men includes cell phone records showing Douglas and Davis in frequent contact with each other on or around the days of the robberies. Cell phone records also place one or both men near the locations of several of the robberies at the times they occurred.
Additionally, the FBI matched cars spotted at a couple of the robberies with those Douglas apparently rented around the time of each incident. Records show he rented a grey Dodge Charger — like the one investigators saw in the Pentagon City surveillance video — four days before the robbery. The vehicle was returned the day of the robbery.
An FBI spokesperson would not comment on the possibility of other arrests in the case because the investigation is still active.
The eatery opened this morning and attracted a long line during today’s lunchtime rush. Like Panera’s sit-down stores, the food court location offers artisan breads, salads, soups, sandwiches, pastas, bagels, smoothies, coffee, tea, espresso drinks and baked goods.
Panera is open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Sundays. For local office workers and residents, the restaurant accepts phone-in orders at 703-412-5080 or fax orders at 703-412-5082.
This is the second Panera Bread location in Arlington. An existing Panera is located at Ballston Common Mall (4238 Wilson Boulevard).
Had tip to Peter Brooks
The Arlington County Police Department has released surveillance video of Tuesday’s smash and grab robbery at Pentagon City mall in the hopes the public can help identify the suspects.
The video shows four subjects entering the Tourneau retail store at 10:37 a.m. on Tuesday (March 19). Police say they headed directly to the Rolex watch display case. One of the subjects used a hammer to break the front side of the glass display case to gain access to the merchandise. Before fleeing, the four subjects managed to grab 23 Rolex watches, worth approximately $609,000. Police say the four suspects were in the store for less than 30 seconds.
All four subjects are described as being black males wearing ski masks and hooded jackets. Three were wearing all dark clothing and suspect four was wearing a red hooded jacket and dark pants. A fifth person was reportedly waiting in a getaway vehicle on the S. Hayes Street side of the mall. The vehicle is described as a charcoal gray four-door sedan.
If anyone has information on the identities and/or whereabouts of these individuals, please contact Detective Paula Brockenborough of the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4241 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866-411-TIPS (8477).
(Updated at 2:50 p.m.) A group of robbers got away with $609,000 worth of Rolex watches in a smash and grab robbery at Pentagon City mall this morning.
According to police, four men wearing ski masks and gloves entered the Tourneau watch store, near the main S. Hayes Street entrance to the mall, around 10:30 a.m. The men smashed the front of a display case with a hammer, then grabbed 23 Rolex watches valued at $609,000, police said.
The men then fled, hopped in a getaway vehicle parked in front of the mall with an accomplice in the driver’s seat, and took off. The car was described as a charcoal gray, four-door sedan.
The entire robbery took less than 30 seconds, according to police.
No customers or employees were on the “floor” of the store at the time of the robbery. One employee who was cleaning the outside of the store yelled for someone to call police during the robbery. Five employees were in the back of the store, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.
The crime is similar to another smash and grab robbery at the mall last month — during which 27 rings worth approximately $128,000 were stolen — but police so far have not been able to determine a definitive connection.
Surveillance video of the robbery is expected to be released at some point. Still images from the video are provided below.
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]