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Amazon Fresh in Crystal City, prior to opening in 2022 (staff photo by Jay Westcott)

Crystal City is losing what is currently its only grocery store.

The Amazon Fresh store that opened in July 2022 at 1550 Crystal Drive will close after Sunday, ARLnow has learned. Multiple readers told us yesterday that the store had launched a sudden, massive sale.

Employees, we’re told, were informed of the closure this week and offered jobs at other area Amazon Fresh stores.

“I saw a large meeting taking place in the afternoon… around 3pm,” a tipster told us Wednesday. “Store has been mysteriously closed ever since.”

The store since reopened after that temporary mid-week closure and has been working to clear out inventory.

“There is a 75% off sale and the store is super crowded right now with many shelves completely bare,” another tipster said Friday afternoon.

“We are closing… it was fun,” one employee reportedly said.

An Amazon spokesperson sent a statement to ARLnow confirming the closure and saying that the company is focusing on larger format stores.

Over the last year, we’ve redesigned a number of our full-sized Amazon Fresh stores, offering a better overall shopping experience by bringing in an expanded selection, low prices on even more grocery items, and greater convenience with updated checkout options such as Amazon Dash Cart. We’re pleased to see those changes resonating with customers through higher satisfaction scores and increased purchasing. To focus on selectively opening new Amazon Fresh stores as we see positive customer feedback on the new format, we are closing our smaller Amazon Fresh store in Arlington.

Amazon Fresh filled a long-time grocery store void in Crystal City, but the new void is likely to be temporary. Further south, the neighborhood is getting a new Trader Joe’s store at 2450 Crystal Drive, though the quirky grocery chain has declined to confirm what is evident from multiple permit filings.

In nearby Pentagon City, meanwhile, an Amazon-owned Whole Foods remains open at 520 12th Street S., next to its nearly year-old HQ2.

Other smaller Amazon Fresh stores are also closing, including at least one in Seattle — home to Amazon’s main corporate headquarters — and another in D.C.’s Logan Circle neighborhood. Additionally, this week Amazon announced that it was discontinuing its “Just Walk Out” cashierless technology at remaining Fresh stores.

Amazon was expected to open a Fresh store on Columbia Pike as part of the planned Fillmore Gardens Shopping Center redevelopment, but reportedly pulled out from the deal, delaying the project and leaving a stretch of empty storefronts along the Pike. Plans for a Fresh store in Bailey’s Crossroads was also dropped.

With the Crystal City and D.C. closures, the closest Fresh stores to Arlington will be located in Fairfax County and Montgomery County, Md. Beyond its physical stores, however, Amazon Fresh remains a significant grocery delivery business, offering same-day delivery in Arlington and other parts of the region from a fulfillment center in the Springfield area.

Hat tip to Raheem W., Nathan B. and various tipsters

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(Updated at 5:30 p.m.) All lanes of southbound I-395 were blocked near Shirlington Circle this evening due to a serious crash.

Initial reports suggest that a motorcyclist crashed and remained down in the middle lane of the highway. The person’s injuries were reported to be potentially life threatening or life altering.

The I-395 express lanes remained open, but evening rush hour traffic in the main lanes of the highway was backed up to the 14th Street Bridge as of 5:20 p.m.

As of 5:30 p.m. all lanes were back open, though Virginia State Police remained on scene, on the right shoulder.

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Police on scene of homicide investigation in Pentagon City (photo courtesy anonymous)

(Updated on 3/7/24) Arlington police are investigating what might be the county’s first homicide of 2024.

Police were dispatched to the apartment building above the Whole Foods store on the 500 block of 12th Street S. in Pentagon City around 4:15 p.m. for a report of gunshots fired in a 15th floor apartment.

Officers found two people dead inside the unit.

“Upon arrival, officers located an adult male and adult female deceased inside a residence,” ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage tells ARLnow. “Based on the preliminary investigation, the incident is being investigated as an apparent homicide-suicide.”

“Final determination of cause and manner of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner,” Savage continued. “This appears to be an isolated incident and there is no indication of a larger threat to the community.”

ACPD issued a press release about the case Wednesday afternoon, referring to the deceased as a couple. So far, police are not identifying either party.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating an apparent domestic homicide-suicide in the Pentagon City neighborhood after a couple was found deceased inside their home.

At approximately 4:15 p.m. on March 5, police were dispatched to the 500 block of 12th Street S. for the report of a possible death. Initial information indicated building maintenance entered the residence to conduct a check on the welfare on behalf of a concerned family member. Inside the bedroom, responding officers located an adult male and adult female deceased from apparent gunshot wounds. Based on the preliminary investigation, the incident is being investigated as an apparent homicide-suicide. Final determination of cause and manner of death will be determined by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

The names of the deceased are being withheld pending proper identification and notification of next of kin.

This appears to be an isolated incident and there is no indication of a larger threat to the community. This remains an active investigation and anyone with information related to this incident is asked to contact the Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4180 or [email protected]. Information may also be reported anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

On Thursday, ACPD revealed the names of the victim and suspect.

“The deceased have been identified as Nadejda Mossor, 22, and Jason Han, 37, of Arlington, VA,” police said. “They were in a relationship.”

A portion of 12th Street S. was closed as a result of the emergency response.

The Central Place office tower in Rosslyn (via Google Maps)

Arlington has landed the headquarters of another publicly traded company.

Arlington County and Gov. Glenn Youngkin announced Tuesday evening that CoStar Group will be moving its corporate headquarters from D.C. to the Central Place building in Rosslyn. The Washington Business Journal previously reported that the company was nearing a deal to buy the office tower, describing the impending move as “another blow to downtown D.C.”

A total of 650 employees will work from the new HQ at 1201 Wilson Blvd, the county and the governor’s office said. That’s in addition to the more than 1,000 CoStar employees who work in a large “research and data analytics” office in Richmond.

“The decision to relocate the CoStar headquarters to Arlington County reinforces the positive environment state and local leaders have created for business,” state Sen. Barbara Favola said in a statement. “The well-educated workforce, world-class public schools, transit opportunities, and recreational spaces will be welcome assets for CoStar employees.”

CoStar made a splash over the weekend by airing several celebrity-studded commercials for its Homes.com brand during the Super Bowl.

As part of the move, CoStar will receive nearly $5 million in state economic incentives. The company will be paying Arlington County nearly $14 million, meanwhile, for exclusive use of what had previously been a public amenity under the building’s site plan agreement: the “View of D.C.” observation deck.

The space previously charged admission but in 2019 changed to being free to the public. The county says it plans to use the $14 million to accelerate proposed changes to nearby Rosslyn Gateway Park by a decade.

The CoStar Group announcement continues a winning streak for Arlington, which landed Nestle’s U.S. headquarters in 2017, Amazon’s HQ2 in 2018, and the corporate headquarters of Boeing and RTX Corporation (formerly Raytheon) in 2022.

An Arlington County press release, below, notes that CoStar employees are expected to work from the office four days a week, “which will add to the vitality of Rosslyn’s ongoing transformation into a mixed-used neighborhood.”

Arlington Economic Development is pleased to announce CoStar Group will move its global headquarters to Rosslyn. CoStar Group, a leading global provider of online real estate marketplaces, information, and analytics in the property markets, has purchased 1201 Wilson Boulevard, a 560,000-square-foot office building known as Central Place Tower, and will move into the location in late 2024. CoStar Group will occupy 150,000 square feet of commercial office space and employ 650 workers in Arlington. Included in the S&P 500 Index and the NASDAQ 100, CoStar Group employs over 6,200 globally and is comprised of notable industry products and online marketplaces covering all aspects of real estate, including CoStar, LoopNet, Apartments.com, Homes.com and STR.

Earlier today, Governor Glenn Youngkin approved a $1.25 million grant from the Commonwealth’s Opportunity Fund to assist Arlington County with this project. The Governor also approved $3.5 million in funds from the Virginia Economic Development Incentive Grant.

“Virginia’s a great choice for a new corporate headquarters location, and we are excited that CoStar Group, a leading provider of online real estate marketplaces, information, and analytics in the property markets, sees the economic advantage in moving to the Commonwealth,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin. “As states compete for business and jobs, the Commonwealth’s diverse, world-class talent, exceptional quality of life and stable business climate continues to stand out. We are proud that CoStar has chosen Virginia as its home.”

“The financially strategic acquisition of this building will provide the perfect home for the more than 500 employees at our current headquarters. We’re incredibly thankful for our 14 years calling Washington, D.C. home, and we will continue to be a part of this community even as we move across the river to Arlington County,” said Andy Florance, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CoStar Group.

“CoStar Group’s move to Arlington is a huge win and a testament to our high quality of life, dynamic urban centers, unparalleled talent pool and business-friendly environment,” said Ryan Touhill, Director, Arlington Economic Development. “CoStar Group’s outright purchase of the building also signifies confidence in our commercial real estate market, which is key to our ongoing efforts to reduce office vacancies.”

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Police car at night (file photo courtesy Kevin Wolf)

A 40-year-old Arlington man has been charged with raping a woman in Crystal City early Thursday morning.

Police say the man started talking to a woman who was walking in the neighborhood around 2:15 a.m., before sexually and physically assaulting her in an outdoor area along 12th Street S., near Long Bridge Park.

Following an investigation, he was arrested that night during a traffic stop.

More, below, from Arlington police.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Special Victims Unit is announcing the arrest of an Arlington man following a sexual assault investigation in Crystal City. Vernon Koning, 40, was arrested and charged with Rape and Strangulation. He is being held without bond in the Arlington County Detention Facility.

At approximately 2:15 a.m. on February 8, police were dispatched to the report of a rape. The preliminary investigation indicates the female victim was walking in the area when she became engaged in conversation with the suspect. The suspect led the victim to an outdoor area in the 200 block of 12th Street S. where he sexually and physically assaulted her. Following the assault, the victim ran from the scene and sought assistance in the 900 block of Long Bridge Drive.

Police immediately initiated a comprehensive criminal investigation. A review of evidence and witness interviews led detectives to the identity of the suspect. He was taken into custody following a traffic stop on the evening of February 8.

This remains an active criminal investigation. Anyone with information that may assist the investigation is asked to contact Detective Maldonado at 703-228-4194 or [email protected]. Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477). For additional community resources and contact information, visit our website.

Police and bomb squad on scene at 2231 Crystal Drive in Crystal City

Update at 7:50 p.m. — The bomb squad has given the “all clear,” per scanner traffic, and units have started leaving the scene.

Earlier: Arlington County’s bomb squad is investigating a “suspicious vehicle” at a Crystal City office building.

The Saturday evening incident has prompted a massive police and fire department response to the building at 2231 Crystal Drive. It started as some sort of a police investigation around 4 p.m. and escalated to include all available ACPD units and the ACFD bomb squad around 6 p.m.

The bomb squad response was expanded around 6:45 p.m.

In a social media post, Arlington County police said they’re investigating “a suspicious vehicle in a parking garage” and the building has been evacuated. Crystal Drive and a portion of 23rd Street S. are closed in the area.

No additional details about the incident were immediately available.

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Mark Black (courtesy Alexandria Sheriff’s Office)

A former board president of the Arlington Aquatic Club pled guilty today to conspiring to sexually exploit several children.

Mark Black, 50, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography and one count of coercion and enticement one month before he was set to go to trial in federal court on Feb. 27, according to a press release from the U.S. Dept. of Justice.

He is set to be sentenced on April 30 and faces a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison.

From January 2018 to October 2021, Black was part of two groups that found prepubescent girls online and convinced them to livestream themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct, the release says. Black and his co-conspirators would secretly record so they could share the videos with each other.

Last November, a grand jury returned an indictment charging Black with six counts of creating, advertising, distributing and receiving child pornography between 2018 and 2023.

Black was one board president of AAC, an elite swimming program notable for producing a Tokyo Olympian two summers ago, and also worked as a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) attorney.

More, below, from the Justice Department press release.

A Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) attorney pleaded guilty today to conspiring to sexually exploit numerous children.

According to court documents, between January 2018 and October 2021, Mark Black, 50, of Arlington, was a member of two online groups dedicated to exploiting children. The goal of the two groups was to locate prepubescent girls online and convince them to livestream themselves engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Black and his co-conspirators would covertly record this conduct and share the videos with each other.

In July 2019, Black induced a prepubescent minor to engage in sexually explicit conduct on a live-streaming application while screen-recording that activity. That same month, Black and a co-conspirator also groomed another prepubescent minor to engage in sexually explicit acts on a photo and video-sharing application. The co-conspirator surreptitiously hacked into this girl’s live-video feed and recorded the sexual acts before sending them to Black.

Black was formerly the Arlington Aquatic Club (AAC) board president.

Black pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to produce child pornography and one count of coercion and enticement. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 30 and faces a mandatory minimum term of 15 years in prison and a maximum penalty of life in prison. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Nicole M. Argentieri, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; Michael D. Nordwall, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division; and Shimon Richmond, Assistant Inspector General for Investigations of the FDIC Office of Inspector General (FDIC-OIG), made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Lauren Halper and Trial Attorneys McKenzie Hightower, Kaylynn Foulon, and James E. Burke IV of the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section are prosecuting the case.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse. Led by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS), Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims. For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit www.justice.gov/psc. […]

Any individuals who believe they or someone they know may have been victimized by Black are encouraged to contact the FBI at 202-278-2000 and ask to speak to the Child Exploitation and Human Trafficking Task Force.

Arlington County Board Vice-Chair Libby Garvey speaks at a press conference in 2023 (courtesy photo)

Arlington County Board Chair Libby Garvey is retiring at the end of her term in 2024.

She announced her decision near the top of a County Board meeting today (Tuesday).

“When my term ends in December, it will be 28 years of elected public service and about 17 primaries and general campaigns,” she said. “I’m loving this work. I love working with the staff, my colleagues and the residents. I mean, that’s the best part of this job, in many ways, but at this point, both my head and my heart are telling me it’s time I passed the baton.”

Garvey was first elected to the County Board in 2012, after previously serving on the Arlington School Board.

Continuing the relay analogy, Garvey says she intends “to sprint to the finish” and looks forward to accomplishing more for Arlington in the next 11 months, including leading the newly unveiled 2050 visioning process — a sweeping public engagement opportunity to envision what the county should look like in 26 years — and making Arlington more energy resilient.

“There will be time for more proper thank-yous and acknowledgments in the future,” she added in a statement to people who subscribe to her monthly newsletter, issued shortly after her announcement. “Please know that my friends and supporters have made it possible for me to do this work, which I love. And I look forward, as always, to your thoughts and suggestions as I continue to work for Arlington throughout this year.”

The acknowledgements have already started, however.

“We would like to thank Libby Garvey for her years of service on the County Board,” the Arlington County Democratic Committee said, in a statement posted on social media. “We know she’ll keep working for Arlington the rest of her term and beyond.”

So far, there are three candidates who have stepped up to fill her place, all vying to be the Democratic nominee selected in a primary this June.

Natalie Roy, who made her debut last election cycle on an anti-Missing Middle platform and received an endorsement from Garvey, is running for the second time. First-time candidate Julie Farnam, an Arlington Ridge Civic Association board member, is campaigning on improving public safety and taking what she calls a “smart” approach to planning and growth.

James DeVita, who ran for State Senate last election cycle, has also thrown his hat into the ring, according to Virginia Public Access Project.

Garvey’s decision follows that of fellow former County Board colleagues Christian Dorsey and Katie Cristol, who both announced last year they would not seek re-election. Cristol made her exit before her term ended while Dorsey saw out the end of his term.

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(Updated at 3:50 p.m.) A multi-vehicle crash with injuries and at least one person reported to be trapped blocked all westbound lanes of I-66 in Arlington this afternoon.

The crash happened around 2:15 p.m. near the exit to Langston Blvd and Spout Run. The person trapped has since been freed by firefighters, according to scanner traffic.

At least four vehicles, including one that overturned, appear to be involved.

Backups on westbound I-66 extended to Rosslyn, while eastbound traffic was also backed up at the crash scene. Police detoured westbound drivers onto Langston Blvd. At least one eastbound lane remained blocked as of 3 p.m.

Shortly before 4 p.m., VDOT said that all lanes were back open.

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Update on 12/5/23: The suspect, now officially identified as James Yoo, is presumed dead following the explosion, police say.

(Updated at 11:30 p.m.) A large explosion, heard throughout Arlington, has rocked the Bluemont neighborhood after a police standoff.

A duplex, where a suspect was involved in an ongoing incident with police, exploded in a massive fireball as police, including a SWAT armored vehicle, moved in. It followed the suspect repeatedly firing a flare gun over nearby Fields Park.

Residents in the area were being instructed to shelter in place, while others were evacuated by police.

Arlington County police said the person inside the house fired shots as officers tried to enter the home, just before the explosion. A video, below, shows the explosion (the video contains strong language and disturbing imagery.)

“As officers were attempting to execute a search warrant at the residence, the suspect discharged several rounds inside the home,” said ACPD. “Subsequently, an explosion occurred at the residence and officers continue to investigate the circumstances of the explosion.”

“I think it blew up the entire duplex,” one neighbor told ARLnow in the immediate aftermath. “I’m sure the family next door was evacuated before it blew up but they lost their home.”

Firefighters were still working to extinguish small residual fires from the resulting blaze as of 11:30 p.m., three hours after the explosion. Investigators — including from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — are on scene.

Paramedics were initially told to expect “multiple burn patients” after the explosion, but police said around 9:30 p.m. that officers on scene only “reported minor injuries with no one transported to the hospital.”

Numerous residents described the shock of the huge blast to ARLnow.

One said the explosion “literally shook my bed” and described an “acrid stench” afterward.

Another said he was in the shower at the time.

“It shook my entire house and I didn’t know what it was at first,” said Dave Tran. “So I ran outside and I saw… the entire house was just leveled.”

Alex Wilson, the neighbor who took the video seen above — and shared worldwide on social media tonight — told ARLnow that the resident of the home was firing a rifle at police as they used the SWAT vehicle to try to get inside.

“When they rammed the front door he started firing an AR back at them,” he said. Wilson said he saw at least one officer injured following the explosion.

“He was able to walk but he was like holding his head,” said Wilson.

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Crystal Gateway Marriott hotel (via Google Maps)

A Muslim group’s planned banquet in Arlington has been cancelled after it says the hotel received “multiple terror threats.”

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) was scheduled to hold its 29th annual banquet Saturday night at the Crystal Gateway Marriott at 1700 Richmond Highway.

“CAIR has hosted banquets there annually for over ten years,” the group said tonight (Thursday) in a press release. “In recent days, according to the Marriott, anonymous callers have threatened to plant bombs in the hotel’s parking garage, kill specific hotel staff in their homes, and storm the hotel in a repeat of the Jan. 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol if the events moved forward.”

“Law enforcement authorities and the FBI have been notified of the terror threats. The FBI has confirmed to CAIR that it is investigating the reported threats,” the press release continued. “The terror threats came after CAIR updated its original banquet programming to focus on the work needed to support basic Palestinian human rights.”

CAIR says it “plans to proceed with [the] banquet at an alternate secure location with heightened security.” A separate banquet planned for Oct. 28 in Maryland “will also be cancelled as a precaution and merged into the Oct. 21st event.”

The banquets were billed as “a night of solidarity with Palestine,” amid the Israel-Hamas war.

“We strongly condemn the extreme and disgusting threats against our organization, the Marriott hotel and its staff,” CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad said in a statement. “We will not allow the threats of anti-Palestinian racists and anti-Muslim bigots who seek to dehumanize the Palestinian people and silence American Muslims to stop us from pursuing justice for all.”

“We ask all those who value free speech, human rights and justice to support CAIR’s work today to show hateful extremists that they will not succeed in silencing us and will only make our voices stronger, God willing,” Awad added.

An Arlington-based conservative media outlet wrote Tuesday that the banquet was “generating concerns among pro-Israel advocates, who say the hotel chain has a responsibility to stop its venues from being used to foment anti-Israel fervor.”

The United States has seen heightened incidents of bigotry and violence against Muslims and Jews since the war’s outbreak, which started with a surprise Hamas attack that killed more than 1,000 in Israel. The Israeli airstrikes since then have killed several thousand in Gaza, Palestinian authorities say.

Among the incidents was the murder of a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy in Illinois. He was buried Monday after, authorities say, he was stabbed to death by a landlord who was “obsessed with the war between Hamas and Israel.”

Photo via Google Maps

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