Arlington, VA

The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City closed last night and is expected to remain closed until at least the end of the month.

Mall owner Simon Property Group announced yesterday that it would close all of its U.S. shopping centers, including the Pentagon City mall, which has one of the company’s busiest and most profitable food courts.

More from the announcement:

After extensive discussions with federal, state and local officials and in recognition of the need to address the spread of COVID-19, Simon will close all of its retail properties, including Malls, Premium Outlets and Mills in the U.S. This measure will take effect from 7 pm local time on March 18 and will end on March 29*.

“The health and safety of our shoppers, retailers and employees is of paramount importance and we are taking this step to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” said David Simon, Chairman, Chief Executive Officer and President of Simon.

Even before the closure, the coronavirus outbreak kept most people away from the usually-busy mall. And department store anchors Macy’s and Nordstrom both closed nationwide on Tuesday.

https://twitter.com/steezyysosa/status/1239714857399857154

A day before the closure, an employee of one of the mall’s stores told ARLnow that he was worried about the risk of disease from keeping the mall open.

“I am writing to you from my store now (I am required to be open while the mall is open) and there are about 30-40 people sitting in the food court eating. Coming in and shopping. Raising the risk of spreading COVID-19,” the employee wrote. “We as employees are calling out for help as we are constantly at risk of exposure. Our complaints to management go unnoticed. They have limited business hours, but that has only concentrated the amount of people in the mall to a shorter time.”

Ballston Quarter mall, meanwhile, remains open, though as of earlier this week customers were few and far between. The mall said stores and restaurants were free to close if deemed necessary.

“We are closely monitoring the rapidly evolving COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to provide updates via our website,” the mall said on its website. “Effective Monday, March 16, the shopping center will operate between noon and 7 p.m. every day except for Sunday, when the hours are noon to 6 p.m.”

“We recognize that, in light of concerns surrounding the coronavirus, retailers and merchants may implement their own corporate policies regarding modified hours or temporary store closures,” Ballston Quarter said. “Please make sure to check the restaurant or store hours prior to visiting.”

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Morning Notes

Mass Cancelled at Catholic Churches — “On Monday, March 16, 2020, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge, Diocese of Arlington… announced that the public celebration of all Masses in the Diocese is suspended until further notice.” [Press Release]

Food Donations Needed — “We have already seen a sharp decrease in food donations from our local grocery stores. AFAC has begun to purchase more food to offset the drop of food available on our shelves. Please think about making a donation to AFAC to help us keep our warehouse full for our families in need.” [Arlington Food Assistance Center]

Regional Park Facilities Closed — “While park and facilities are open for individual use, programs organized by NOVA Parks are canceled. All NOVA Parks facilities and buildings will be closed beginning at the close of business on March 16 and remaining closed for at least two weeks. Many parks will remain open for passive use – trails, general visitation, etc.” [NOVA Parks]

Community Centers Closed — The following Arlington rec centers are closed: Aurora Hills Community Center, Barcroft Sports & Fitness Center, Carver Community Center, Charles Drew Community Center, Gulf Branch Nature Center, Gunston Community Center, Hendry House, Lee Community Center, Long Branch Nature Center and Madison Community Center. The Fairlington, Walter Reed, Arlington Mill, Thomas Jefferson and Langston-Brown community centers remain open with modified hours. [Arlington County]

Pentagon City Mall: Before and After — Photos of the Pentagon City mall food court before and after the coronavirus outbreak shows a stark difference: bustling before vs. nearly deserted after. [Twitter]

White House: Avoid Gatherings of 10+ — “The White House’s coronavirus task force announced tougher guidelines on Monday to help slow the spread of the disease, including limiting social gatherings of more than 10 people.” [Axios]

It’s St. Patrick’s Day — Enjoy a Guinness at home because most places to celebrate are closed, or at least should be. [Old Farmer’s Almanac]

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Morning Notes

List of County Gov’t Changes — “With cases in the region, including Arlington, we are taking critical steps to slow down the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), as the health and safety of our employees and our community is our top priority. While we will be making changes to some programs and services, we will continue to operate essential government services for our residents and businesses.” [Arlington County]

Visits Cancelled at County Jail — “All Professional Visits will be non-contact for a minimum of 30 days. All Personal Visits will be cancelled for a minimum of 30 days. All programs will be cancelled for a minimum of 30 days.” [Arlington County]

Jury Trials Postponed — “As of March 15, the Circuit Court has postponed all jury trials & released witnesses from subpoenas through March 31. Other hearings & sentencing dockets are also postponed. See attached. Arraignments & bond motions will still be heard.” [Twitter]

Metro Reduces Service — “As of 2 p.m., Friday, March 13, Metro has further escalated its response to Phase 3 of its Pandemic Flu Plan. Phase 3 is the highest level of response and will include all subsequent mitigation steps required during the public health emergency… Monday-Friday: Trains will operate every 12 minutes on each line throughout the day. The rail system will maintain normal hours, opening at 5 a.m.” [WMATA]

Visitor Restrictions at Va. Hospital Center — “Effective March 12, we have implemented new visitation restrictions to protect the health and safety of our patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19.” [Instagram]

Restaurant Delivering Free Meals — “Between the empty grocery store shelves, scary headlines, and mass closures, it’s hard not to feel like the world is ending. Which is why Medium Rare owner Mark Bucher wanted to do something to make people’s lives a little easier. So yesterday, he posted a message on Twitter: If anyone over the age of 70 needed a meal, his restaurant would make sure they got one.” [Washingtonian]

Few Crowds at Pentagon City Mall — The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall was “almost dead” at noon on Saturday as most shoppers sayed away. Meanwhile, a reader took a video of people in full body suits in the Victoria’s Secret store; it’s unclear whether they were cleaning the store or otherwise. [Twitter, Twitter]

Crash on N. Glebe Road Saturday — A crash at N. Glebe Road and Pershing Drive sent a car careening into a lamp post, over a sidewalk and smashing into the parking lot of the Buckingham Center strip mall on Saturday. [Twitter]

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An Ohio-based company that offers boozy, candy-covered gifts is planning to open at Pentagon City mall, according to a permit filing.

Bliss in a Bottle, which previously opened a kiosk at Tysons Corner Center, sells beer and wine bottles covered in chocolate, sprinkles and other candies.

“In the perfect pairing, flavors from different families collide, creating a taste explosion that sends a wake-up call from your mouth to your brain. It’s not just delicious. It’s a truly novel experience,” says the company’s Facebook page. “Our fine Belgian chocolate, hand-painted on to a wine bottle covered with a removable food grade sleeve, is a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds.”

The company, which also has a location at Westfield Montgomery mall in Bethesda, has been expanding via franchising. So far there’s no word on an opening date for the Pentagon City location.

A video, below, shows how customers can peel the chocolate off the bottle before opening.

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A carjacking suspect made a successful getaway in Pentagon City Friday night, even as Arlington County Police have stepped up patrols in the area after a series of carjackings and robberies.

Police say they were patrolling parking garages in the area of the Pentagon City mall when they were flagged down by a victim who was assaulted by a man with a gun. Shortly thereafter, just before 11 p.m., police received a report of an armed carjacking nearby.

The victim’s vehicle was located on Army Navy Drive and police attempted to pursue it, but the suspect fled at a high rate of speed across the 14th Street Bridge into D.C. and officers were not able to catch up, according to ACPD.

More from a police press release:

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating two armed robberies that occurred in Pentagon City Garages on the evening of February 21, 2020.

At approximately 10:25 p.m., an officer conducting proactive patrol inside a parking garage in the 1100 block of S. Hayes Street was flagged down for assistance by the victim. The victim stated he had been sitting inside his parked vehicle looking at his cell phone when he heard a knock at the window and observed an unknown male suspect brandishing a firearm. The victim exited the vehicle and was assaulted by the suspect. The victim screamed and the suspect fled the scene on foot. The victim was treated on scene by medics for minor injuries. A lookout was broadcast, and officers canvased the area for the suspect.

At approximately 10:50 p.m., while investigating the above-mentioned incident, police were dispatched to the report of a carjacking inside the garage in the 900 block of Army Navy Drive. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 10:34 p.m., the victim entered the garage, parked his vehicle and observed the suspect acting suspiciously. The victim left the area but immediately returned to check on his vehicle. Upon returning, the suspect confronted the victim, brandished a firearm and demanded the victim’s keys. The suspect fled the scene in a black Honda Civic with Virginia license plate UND4813.

Responding officers observed the suspect driving eastbound on Army Navy Drive. At the intersection of Army Navy Drive and Fern Street, the suspect ran a red light and fled the scene at a high rate of speed into the northbound lanes of I-395 HOV. The officers activated their emergency equipment and pursued the vehicle but were unable to maintain contact due to the extreme speed of the suspect vehicle. The suspect vehicle was last seen entering Washington D.C.

The suspect is described as a black male in his mid 20’s, approximately 6 feet tall, 165 – 175 pounds with short black hair and a light amount of facial hair. He was wearing a black jacket, dark jeans and dark sneakers at the time of the incident.

Police are investigating these incidents as a series with the earlier reported carjackings in the area. The series remains an active and ongoing criminal investigation with detectives continuing to follow-up on investigative leads. Anyone with information related to this investigation is asked to contact Detective S. King of the Homicide/Robbery Unit at 703-228-4243 or [email protected] Information may also be provided anonymously through the Arlington County Crime Solvers hotline at ‪1-866-411-TIPS (8477).

Safety Tips and Crime Prevention Measures

The department continues to deploy increased police resources, to include both visible and non-visible assets, in the Pentagon City area. As part of our investigative efforts into these incidents, detectives are working collaboratively with regional law enforcement partners to identify crime trends and apprehend suspect(s).

The department’s efforts to prevent crime in Arlington County are enhanced by the active involvement of the public. If you observe suspicious activity or are the victim of a crime, contact police immediately by calling the Emergency Communications Center at 703-558-2222 or 911 in an emergency.

Police are reminding the public to follow these safety tips:

  • Exit your vehicle and continue to your destination promptly after parking
  • Park in well-lit, high traffic areas.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when entering and exiting your vehicle
  • Limit your use of devices that may distract you, such as cell phones and headphones
  • Don’t leave items unattended or visible in your vehicle

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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A pair of incidents at Arlington’s two shopping malls led to four arrests and charges against six people.

The first incident happened Wednesday afternoon at the Pentagon City mall. Around 3 p.m., according to Arlington County Police, two juvenile suspects shoplifted from a store and were soon thereafter located by officers at the Pentagon City Metro station. One of the suspects lashed out violently, spitting on and hitting officers, according to police.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ASSAULT ON LAW ENFORCEMENT, 2020-02190151, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 2:56 p.m. on February 19, police were dispatched to the report of shoplifting. Upon arrival, it was determined that suspects allegedly entered a business, stole items of value, and fled on foot. A lookout was broadcast and arriving officers located the juvenile suspects on the metro platform. One suspect actively resisted by pushing, elbowing and spitting on the two arresting officers. Once detained, she continued to resist and kicked two additional officers. Petitions for Assault and Battery on Police (x4) and Obstruction of Justice were sought for Suspect One. Petitions for Petit Larceny, Fugitive from Justice and Identity Theft were sought for Suspect Two.

Later Wednesday evening, four juvenile suspects allegedly shoplifted from a store at the Ballston Quarter mall. A security officer who tried to chase after and stop the group was pepper sprayed by one of the suspects, police say.

In coordination with Metro Transit Police, two suspects were later taken into custody at the Rosslyn Metro station.

From the crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING BY CAUSTIC SUBSTANCE, 2020-02190225, 700 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 7:26 p.m. on February 19, police were dispatched to the report of an assault with injury. Upon arrival, it was determined that the victim was working as loss prevention for a business when he observed a group of juvenile suspects allegedly selecting and concealing merchandise. When he attempted to stop the group as they exited the business, they fled. The victim attempted to chase the suspects when one suspect allegedly dropped the merchandise he had, then pepper sprayed the victim. A lookout was broadcast and officers located and made contact with the suspects at the Rosslyn Metro Station and, with the assistance of Metro Transit Police, took them into custody without incident. Petitions were obtained for Suspect One for Malicious Wounding by Caustic Agent, Robbery, Grand Larceny and Possession of Burglarous Tools. Petitions for Conspiracy to Commit Felony and Grand Larceny were obtained for Suspect Two. Two additional suspects remain outstanding.

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating the third reported carjacking at a Pentagon City parking garage in the past two weeks.

Around 11:15 p.m. Tuesday, according to police, a male suspect pulled a gun on a man as he was getting out of his car. The suspect drove off with the car and some of the man’s personal belongings.

“The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 6’0″, 20-30 years old, with a thin build, dark complexion, low voice and wearing a black coat,” ACPD said in a crime report. “The victim’s vehicle is described as a Blue Honda Accord with Virginia license plate UYN7195. The investigation is ongoing.”

The suspect description is similar to that of the man suspected of a carjacking in a nearby parking garage last Thursday night. Police say they’re stepping up patrols in the area.

“The Department is conducting extra patrols in the garages and the public can expect to see an increased visible law enforcement presence throughout the Pentagon City area,” ACPD said.

ACPD released a statement about the series of carjackings — and a separate armed robbery of a cell phone — late Wednesday afternoon.

The Arlington County Police Department’s Homicide/Robbery Unit is investigating four recent armed robbery incidents, which occurred in garages in the Pentagon City neighborhood. During three of the incidents, the victims’ vehicle was stolen and two of the vehicles have subsequently been recovered in Washington D.C. All four cases remain ongoing investigations and detectives are actively working to determine if the cases are related and if there are any links to cases reported in the region.

Three of the four incidents appear to have happened at the Pentagon City mall parking garage. The latest carjacking happened on the 1100 block of S. Joyce Street, according to police, but it’s not clear which garage was involved.

ACPD offered some safety tips in the wake of the carjackings:

Police are reminding the public to follow these safety tips:

  • Exit your vehicle and continue to your destination promptly after parking
  • Park in well-lit, high traffic areas.
  • Be aware of your surroundings when entering and exiting your vehicle
  • Limit your use of devices that may distract you, such as cell phones and headphones
  • Don’t leave items unattended or visible in your vehicle

Separately, in today’s crime report, police say seven rental cars were stolen from a parking garage. Several rental car companies operate out of the mall.

More from ACPD:

GRAND LARCENY AUTO (Significant), 2020-02040149, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 2:15 p.m. on February 4, police were dispatched to the report of several stolen vehicles. Upon arrival, it was determined that a car rental company was conducting an inventory when they discovered seven vehicles missing, with keys left inside. The theft of the vehicles are estimated between September 2019 and February 4, 2020. All stolen vehicles are described as white or gray 2020 Toyota four door sedans. The investigation is ongoing.

In July, a would-be armed robber in the Pentagon City mall garage was shot and killed with his own gun.

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Mezeh will open at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City later this year, ARLnow has learned.

The fast-casual Mediterranean grill, which just opened a new location at Ballston Quarter mall, is planning to open at the Pentagon City mall in late summer or early fall, according to Renaud Consulting leasing agent John Marigliano.

The restaurant is set to open on the same level as the food court, Marigliano said. It is not yet clear as to which space it will occupy.

The company’s first stand-alone restaurant opened in Crystal City, at 2450 Crystal Drive, in 2015.

Photo courtesy Mezeh

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Young adult fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch and watch shop Swatch are no longer open in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

A mall employee told ARLnow that both stores shuttered this week. The closures come amid a rash of retailers closing up shop, in part because of the rising popularity of e-commerce, dubbed by some as a “retail apocalypse.”

Earlier this year, jeans company True Religion also left the mall, an employee at a True Religion store in Maryland said. Greeting card and stationery store Papyrus, which is closing all of its stores, is currently holding its final sale at the Fashion Centre.

Nearby at Tysons Corner Center, several chain retailers and restaurants have left recently, including Lord and TaylorBareMinerals, Armani Exchange and Brio Tuscan Grille.

Stores have also been closing with alarming regularity outside of malls. A Pier 1 home furnishings store is closing in Rosslyn and a World Market store at Pentagon Row closed last fall.

Hat tip to @calebfiles

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A spate of armed robberies at the Pentagon City mall parking garage is continuing.

Arlington County Police say a woman was carjacked by a man with a gun last night around 10:15 p.m. The approximate address given was that of the mall’s parking garage on Army Navy Drive.

More from an ACPD crime report:

CARJACKING, 2020-01300253, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 10:15 p.m. on January 30, police were dispatched to the report of an armed carjacking. Upon arrival, it was determined that as the victim arrived at her vehicle, the suspect approached her from behind and demanded her keys. The suspect brandished a firearm, stole the keys and fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a black male, skinny build, approximately 5’10”-6’0″, wearing a black sweatshirt. The victim’s vehicle is described as a gray Toyota Corolla with Virginia license plate VWG1216. The investigation is ongoing.

The parking garage has been the scene of a string of robberies since last summer.

Most recently, on Jan. 23, a male victim in a Mercedes was carjacked by a gun-toting man around 2 p.m. In July, a would-be armed robber was shot and killed with his own gun.

NBC 4 reported last Friday that the crimes have left shoppers “on edge.” Mall management did not respond to the station’s request for comment.

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A man was carjacked in the Pentagon City mall parking garage last week, the latest in a spate of such incidents over the past few months.

The crime happened just before 2 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 23.

“The male victim parked and exited his vehicle when he was approached by an unknown suspect,” Arlington County Police said in a crime report. “The suspect brandished a firearm, demanded the victim’s keys and fled the scene in the victim’s vehicle.”

“The suspect is described as a black male, skinny build, approximately 6’06” tall wearing a dark jacket and dark pants,” the crime report continues. “The victim’s vehicle is described as a black Mercedes C300 with Maryland license plate 4DF8053.”

There have been a number of robberies and attempted robberies in the garage since last summer.

In July, a would-be armed robber was shot and killed with his own gun in the mall parking garage, at 1100 S. Hayes Street. Most recently, on Sunday, Jan. 19, a woman was sitting in her car inside the garage when a man with a gun approached and stole her cell phone, according to a crime report.

ROBBERY, 2020-01190177, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 5:25 p.m. on January 19 an officer on patrol was flagged down by a citizen requesting assistance. The investigation determined that between 5:05 p.m. and 5:20 p.m., the female victim was sitting inside her parked vehicle when an unknown suspect approached her, brandished a firearm and demanded her cell phone. The suspect fled the scene on foot after stealing the cell phone. The suspect is described as a black male, late teens to early 20’s, wearing a dark colored sweater, a hoodie pulled over his head and dark pants. The investigation is ongoing.

NBC 4 reported on Friday that the crimes have left shoppers “on edge.” The mall did not respond to the station’s request for comment.

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