An allegedly gun-toting convicted felon was arrested by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents after a brief car chase and crash in Pentagon City over the weekend.
The ATF says its agents were following D.C. resident Othaniel Gaither, a convicted felon, after he illegally bought two guns and ammunition in Northern Virginia on Sunday. When Gaither took a detour through Pentagon City en route back to D.C., the agents tried to pull him over in the area of 15th Street and S. Fern Street.
“At this point, Gaither attempted to evade arrest and rammed into one of the ATF vehicles,” ATF Washington Field Division spokesman Thomas A. Faison told ARLnow.com. “This evasion attempt proved unsuccessful.”
“[Gaither] admitted to being a convicted felon who was transporting the firearms and ammunition from Virginia to D.C.,” Faison said. “He also stated that an associate of his was shot several weeks ago in D.C. and the firearms and ammunition were for retaliation against the individuals responsible for the shooting incident.”
ATF agents recovered an AK-47 rifle, a .38 caliber machine pistol and a flare gun that was modified to fire 12-gauge shotgun shells, according to Faison. Ammunition was also found.
Gaither remains in custody on federal charges.
Photos courtesy @WestwoodKing
Arlington County held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for its multimodal improvement project in Pentagon City.
The two-year, $9 million project resulted in improved sidewalks, road crossings, bike lanes, street trees, drainage and landscaping along S. Hayes Street in front of Pentagon City mall. The project was completed nearly 6 percent under budget, with the state and federal government paying 80 percent of the final cost, according to the county.
“This project is key to Arlington’s efforts to make it easier to travel to, around or through Pentagon City, whether you are traveling by car, bus, bike or Metro,” Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette said in a statement. “South Hayes is now a more complete, welcoming, accessible and safe corridor.”
Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) and County Board members Walter Tejada and Libby Garvey were on hand for the unveiling on Thursday.
The county’s press release about the project’s completion is below, after the jump.
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Arlington police and firefighters are on the scene of a rollover accident at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Hayes Street in Pentagon City.
Initial reports suggest an SUV overturned as a result of a two-vehicle crash. The driver of the overturned SUV was able to get out of the vehicle and did not appear to be seriously hurt.
According to police on scene, the drivers of both cars escaped with minor injuries, but the driver of the car that flipped was transported to Virginia Hospital Center as a precaution.
Motorists should expect delays in the area of the crash.
Arlington County police are looking for three suspects in an early morning brawl at the DoubleTree hotel in Pentagon City (300 Army Navy Drive) Sunday.
“Surveillance video captured the suspects in the lobby area at approximately 3:16 a.m. as they taunt two couples as they entered the hotel,” according to police. “Following the comments, the three suspects charge after the victims and a physical altercation ensues, leaving one of the victim’s unconscious on the floor. The suspects flee the scene after hotel security arrive and are again captured on surveillance video exiting the front door.”
The victim was taken to a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Police are asking anyone who might recognize the suspects to contact investigators.
“If anyone has information on the identity 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 email@example.com,” said a police press release. “To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).”
A monster pothole has been claiming hubcaps and testing the suspensions of unsuspecting drivers in Pentagon City.
The pothole is located on S. Joyce Street, across from Pentagon Row. As of last night, it measured approximately 4 feet by 4 feet, with a depth of 6 to 9 inches. That makes it even bigger than our previous contender for biggest pothole in Arlington, which was located on N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon.
The pothole was consistently being run over by the right tires of vehicles last night, occasionally producing a loud thud from those with smaller vehicles or tighter suspensions.
The pothole has been there for at least two weeks, and has been growing bigger by the day. Myllisa Kennedy, spokeswoman for Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services, suggested that the maintenance crews responsible for filling potholes have been slowed down by recent snowstorms.
“Crews have had to shift back and forth between pothole/other maintenance work and snow because of all the storms — doing as much as they can when the weather is cooperating,” she said via email.
Kennedy explained that Arlington County prefers to use a more durable method of pothole repair, which requires better weather conditions than the more temporary alternative.
“Crews fix the potholes using a longer lasting ‘hot’ mix – as opposed to a ‘cold’ mix used for temporary repairs in some places — whenever possible to reduce the likelihood we have to come back around and fix the same pothole,” she wrote.
The harsh winter is producing more potholes this year, Kennedy said. Maintenance crews are expected to be back out on the streets today trying to catch up on the pothole backlog.
“The severe weather fluctuations this winter are leading to more potholes earlier in the season and thus there is a need to for crews to start focusing on pothole repairs sooner than they would in milder winters,” said Kennedy. “Our plan is to get back out and continue filling the potholes County-wide. Our streets crews, which total about 35 employees, will be out on the roadways today, throughout this month, and well into the spring working to fix the potholes caused by this year’s extreme freeze and thaw weather. We will also bring in contractors to help with larger potholes and patches.”
The annual Love the Run You’re With 5K will take place Sunday morning (Feb. 9) and will result in some street closures around Pentagon City.
The Valentine’s Day-themed race kicks off at 9:00 a.m. on S. Joyce Street in front of Pentagon Row. Runners then do a loop up Army Navy Drive, as it runs parallel to I-395, before returning to Pentagon Row.
Registration for the race, organized by Pacers Events, is $40. Participants are given different colored race bibs depending on whether their relationship status is “single,” “in a relationship” or “it’s complicated.” A post-run party will be held Champps Restaurant (1201 S. Joyce Street).
To accommodate the race, the Arlington County Police Department is planning on closing the following roads from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m.
- South Joyce Street between South 15th Street and Army Navy Drive
- Army Navy Drive between South Joyce Street and South 25th Street
“Street parking in the area will be restricted,” the police department said in a press release. “Motorists should be on the lookout for temporary ‘No Parking’ signs. Illegally parked vehicles may be ticketed or towed. If your vehicle is towed from a public street, call 703-558-2222.”
“Race attendees are encouraged to use Metro, however, if driving please utilize the parking garage at the Pentagon City Mall,” ACPD advised.
Photo via Pacers Events
The former Department of Defense Inspector General office at 400 Army Navy Drive has submitted a site plan for a 20-story building with two towers — on one, three-story platform — that would have 491,588 square feet of ground floor space and 453 residential units.
The building, also called the “Paperclip Building,” was acquired by Bethesda-based developer LCOR in 2012, according to City Biz List, with the plan to convert it into housing. The site plan is now under consideration with the Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) and is slated to go before the Planning Commission and the Arlington County Board no earlier than April for approval, we’re told.
The 1.6-acre plot of land is bounded by Army Navy Drive to the north, 11th Street S. to the south, S. Eads Street to the west and the Doubletree hotel to the east. The site is across S. Eads Street from the recently-approved PenPlace commercial development, which calls for four office buildings and a 300-room hotel on 10.2 acres; more than 4 million square feet of floor space.
PenPlace was approved despite heavy opposition from the Arlington Ridge Civic Association (ARCA) and other neighborhood groups, who objected to the height of the buildings (16-21 stories) and the additional traffic expected to be generated.
At the initial SPRC meeting, commissioners expressed concern that the traffic study the developer performed in June, when putting together its site plan, did not include the impact from PenPlace. In addition, a proposed operations and maintenance facility for the Crystal City streetcar line is directly adjacent to the planned apartment site.
“I don’t see how the proposed 400 Army Navy Drive project can be successfully developed if the County proceeds with its plan to build a streetcar operations and maintenance facility a few feet from its front door on the ‘tear drop’ in the middle of Eads Street,” Arthur Fox, who’s representing ARCA on the SPRC for the project, told ARLnow.com.
“Indeed, an O&M facility in that location will likely be the rotten apple that will spoil the barrel the County is seeking to develop across Eads on PenPlace,” Fox continued. “Unfortunately, the county failed to seriously consider a number of alternative sites that would be far better suited for an O&M facility. It needs to take a step backward and reopen that process.”
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]
Construction on the Pentagon City Multimodal Project on S. Hayes Street is expected to wrap up this spring, county officials say.
The project has been under construction since the summer of 2012. It’s expected to bring numerous streetscape improvements to the stretch of Hayes Street between 15th Street and Army Navy Drive. The stretch includes entrances to the Pentagon City Metro station and the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.
Some residents have been asking ARLnow.com when the project and its associated lane and sidewalk closures would end. Arlington County spokeswoman Jennifer Heilman says the end is near.
“Crews are currently working on traffic signal installation and landscaping in the median, which includes plantings, bioretention areas to manage stormwater runoff, and installation of porous pavement,” she said via email. “We expect construction to conclude by spring 2014.”
That’s within the project’s expected two-year timetable.
The $9 million project was approved by the County Board in April 2012. The features planned as part of the project include:
- Upgraded traffic signals with improved timing at each intersection
- Clearly designated mid-block crossing areas
- New, upgraded street furniture
- New street lighting and accent lighting
- New sidewalks, crosswalks and lane markings
- New ADA ramps and pedestrian crossing equipment at all intersections
- Bioretention and rain garden landscape features to manage stormwater runoff
- Improved landscaping including street trees and ground cover throughout the project area
- Improved amenities for bicyclists, transit riders, pedestrians and visitors to the Pentagon City area
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
(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) Police are on the scene of a robbery at the Pentagon Federal Credit Union branch in Pentagon City.
The PenFed branch is located on the ground floor of the Transportation Security Administration headquarters at 701 12th Street S.
Two men entered the credit union around 1:20 p.m. and passed a backpack and a note demanding cash to the teller, according to Arlington County Police Department spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. The men were given an undisclosed amount of cash. They then fled and were last seen getting into a blue-and-white taxicab.
According to scanner traffic, the cab was likely an Arlington Blue Top cab that was waiting at the cab stand between the Pentagon City Metro station and the Ritz Carlton hotel.
No one was hurt during the incident, Sternbeck said. Arlington police are investigating the robbery in cooperation with the FBI and the TSA. From a police press release:
Suspect one is described as a black male, approximately 6’0” tall with a skinny build and a short beard. He was wearing blue jeans, a blue jacket, along with a black and red hat and glasses at the time of the incident. Suspect two is described as a black male, approximately 5’10” and was wearing blue jeans, a grey hooded sweatshirt and blue jacket.
Anyone with information on the identity or whereabouts of these individuals is asked to contact Detective Gary Skeens with the Arlington County Police Department at 703.228.4166,firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. To report information anonymously, contact the Arlington County Crime Solvers at 866.411.TIPS (8477).
The credit union is located within the TSA headquarters complex. Its entrance faces a public plaza that’s open to pedestrians but closed to vehicle traffic. There is an entrance to the TSA headquarters building within the branch, according to TSA spokesman Mark Howell, but one must present an ID badge to use it.
A guard station is located about 100 feet from the credit union, but Howell said the contract guards who man it are trained to initially call police in the event of a crime. They do not provide security to PenFed, which leases space in the building from the property owner, not from TSA.
Police released the following surveillance footage from the robbery:
The incident happened Monday afternoon in Pentagon City, reportedly at the Nordstrom Rack store (1201 S. Hayes Street) across from the mall. Police say a black male in his 30s was spotted masturbating in the shoe section of the store. He fled the scene before police arrived.
From the Arlington crime report:
INDECENT EXPOSURE, 09/30/13, 1200 block of S. Hayes Street. A male subject was observed masturbating in the shoe section of a retail store. The subject is described as a black male in his late 30s, approximately 5 feet 8 inches and weighing 150 pounds. The subject has short black hair and was wearing a black and red jacket with the word ‘Coogi’ on the back in red writing and red sneakers at the time of the incident. Further investigation is being conducted.
Located on a 10.2 acre parcel of vacant land once proposed as a site for the Nationals baseball stadium, the development will include five buildings between 16 and 22 stories high, and more than 2 million square feet of total floor area. The buildings will be mostly commercial office towers — including one secure office building — plus a 300-room hotel and an option for a 300-unit residential building in lieu of one of the office towers.
Despite 25 public meetings on the development proposal, including 17 Site Plan Review Committee (SPRC) meetings starting in February 2012, a vocal group of residents were still not sold on the project. Mostly hailing from Arlington Ridge and other residential neighborhoods around Pentagon City, they listed a variety of objections to the project, including concerns about additional traffic on neighborhood streets and the new buildings blocking monument views of D.C.
“The SPRC process was a charade — it was more like Chicago and less like Arlington,” said one resident. “The fix was in… it’s been fundamentally unfair. Please help us preserve the character of our neighborhood.”
“The heights are absurd… the 22-story building is going to look ridiculous down there,” said another. “I felt like we’ve been railroaded a bit. We don’t believe that adequate concern was given to Arlington Ridge Road traffic and 23rd Street traffic. We believe those are going to be jammed up.”
A “monumental planning mistake” and “a giveaway,” is how other opponents described the project. One speaker at Saturday’s meeting even proposed renaming the development “Tejada Place,” after the Board chairman, who he said he hoped would be voted out of office.
County staff recommended approval of the project, noting that Pentagon City’s proximity to transit — three Metro stations, a VRE station, local and regional bus routes, I-395 HOV lanes, and the future Crystal City streetcar line – allows it to support high commercial office density. PenPlace will also be next to Metropolitan Park, a 16-acre residential development featuring a future Whole Foods Store, helping to form what county planners envision as a “lively, pedestrian-friendly” retail corridor along a future extension of 12th Street S. between Eads and Fern Streets.
In a first for Arlington, intended to reduce the number of car trips to and from the development, the Board approved a cap on the number of office and retail parking spaces the development may have: a maximum of 1 for every 1,000 square feet of floor area.
Vornado agreed to a host of community benefits in exchange for approval of the development framework. Among those benefits will be a 1.5-2 acre contiguous central green space, a future 20,000 square foot “community facility,” new sidewalks and bike lanes on Eads Street, a new street grid to break up the “superblock,” and a $15 million contribution from Vornado to the future Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility.
Vornado managed to cobble together the additional density needed to supplement that already allowed by zoning via a combination of community benefits, density transfers from Arlington County (in exchange for the $15 million and a parcel of land that will be used for a potential streetcar maintenance facility), and bonuses for LEED Silver and Gold certification and a potential on-site district energy system.
Additional community benefits may be approved in the future. Each of the five buildings in the development will have to go through a final site plan approval and public review process, during which additional benefits may be proposed. The development is expected to be built out over the course of 15-20 years.
Update at 11:40 a.m. — The number of customers without power in Arlington is down to 316, according to the Dominion website.
A significant power outage has been reported in the Pentagon City area.
Power flickered off in the area around 10:30 a.m. The outage set off fire alarms and caused at least one occupied elevator, at the Crystal Tower Apartments (1600 S. Eads Street), to become stuck. Firefighters were able to quickly free the people trapped on the elevator.
Traffic lights are reported dark on S. Eads Street and and S. Fern Street, between 15th Street and Army Navy Drive. Arlington County Police are on scene, setting up cones and directing traffic.
According to the Dominion Power website, 1,224 customers in the area are without power.
As currently proposed, the development will include five buildings and 2.1 million square feet of total floor area. The buildings include a 22-story office building, a 22-story secure office building (for military and/or contractor use), a 20-story office building, an 18-story, 300-room hotel and either a 16-story office building or an 18-story, 300-unit residential building. The project will also feature 50,000 square feet of retail space, a 20,000 square foot “community facility,” and about 2 acres of public open space.
County staff is expected to recommend the Board approve the project, though the official recommendation will not be made until after the county’s Planning Commission weighs in on the project. The commission is holding a carryover meeting to discuss the project at 7:00 tonight (Monday), after the discussion at its meeting on Sept. 11 went too late.
PenPlace has drawn opposition from residents who live in the neighborhoods that border Pentagon City. Members of the Arlington Ridge Civic Association have been particularly vocal, saying the traffic generated by PenPlace will be disruptive to the community.
To help reduce the number of car trips to and from the development, staff has proposed capping the number of office and retail parking spaces at 1,859 — or 1 for every 1,000 square feet of floor area. Setting a parking maximum would be a first for Arlington, which has traditionally focused on setting a minimum number of parking spaces for developments, according to county planning director Bob Duffy. Opponents of the project, however, would like to see even an even lower parking space cap.
“We have listened to the community, but there are still outstanding issues,” Duffy said.
Also proposed in order to reduce car trips: a traffic demand management system, new bike lanes, and a streetcar stop. One side of the development faces the future streetcar tracks that will run along 12th Street S. The project is also a block away from the Pentagon City Metro station.
PenPlace has gone through an extensive community process, including some 25 public meetings, possibly a record for Arlington. The county’s Site Plan Review Committee alone met 17 times between February 2012 and July 2013 to discuss the project and help find a middle ground between developer Vornado and local residents.
The project will be able to achieve its high density of office buildings thanks to a proposed transfer of development rights from Arlington County-owned Long Bridge Park. If approved by the County Board, Arlington will transfer 610,000 square feet of development rights to the project from its Long Bridge Park holdings in exchange for a $15 million contribution from Vornado to the future Long Bridge Park Aquatics, Health and Fitness Facility.
Even if approved this coming weekend, Vornado isn’t expected to start building the PenPlace right away. It could be 15-20 years until the company completes all the proposed buildings in the development, said Duffy.