Arlington, VA

A man brandished a gun and stole cash during a robbery of a store in Pentagon City over the weekend.

The name of the store was not specified, but police say the robbery happened between 6-6:30 p.m. this past Saturday, on the 1100 block of S. Hayes Street — the same block as the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall.

The suspects had purchased items from the store an hour prior to the incident, and were trying to return them when a dispute over the return turned into a robbery, according to police. No one was hurt and two suspects remained at large as of Monday.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ROBBERY, 2021-03200158, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 6:35 p.m. on March 20, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 5:07 p.m. the two suspects purchased items from a retail store and returned at approximately 6:00 p.m. to return the items previously purchased. A dispute ensued over the return during which Suspect One attempted unsuccessfully to reach over the counter and remove cash from the register. Suspect One then brandished a firearm and demanded cash from an employee. The suspects then fled the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash. Upon arrival, police canvased the area with negative results. No injuries were reported. Suspect One is described as a 25-30 year old Black male, light complexion, approximately 5’9″ and 200 lbs. He was wearing a black ski mask, gray hoodie and distressed blue jeans. Suspect Two is described as a 25-30 year old Black male, dark complexion, with short dreads. He was wearing a black jacket and glasses. The investigation is ongoing.

The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City has a trio of new stores, four more on the way, and an imminent visit from the Easter bunny.

Once a virtual ghost town during the pandemic, the mall has been getting busier and vacant storefronts are being filled. Three opened recently:

More are set to open in the near future, including hip tire store Roll by Goodyear, large stuffed animal shop Squishable, fashion retailer Telos LA, and World Gem and Jewelry.

But perhaps the biggest upcoming arrival is none other than the Easter bunny.

The floppy-eared mascot of the spring holiday will hop in on Thursday, March 18 for socially distanced visits and photos with kids, seven days a week.

“The Bunny Photo Experience hours are Monday through Saturday from noon to 7 p.m. and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday,” mall operator Simon noted in a press release.

Photo sessions will be available through April 3, the day before Easter Sunday, and reservations are “strongly encouraged.”

Just avoid getting too close to ol’ Peter Cottontail, as there’s still a pandemic going on.

“For everyone’s safety, visiting the Bunny will be a socially distanced experience,” the mall said, adding that the bespectacled bunny “will be wearing a concealed mask.”

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A teenager with a concealed handgun was taken into custody at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall yesterday afternoon.

The arrest does not appear to have a direct connection to the inauguration, though it took place on Inauguration Day as police were on high alert for possible security threats.

An officer in an unmarked cruiser spotted the teen tucking a gun into his waistband as he entered the mall with four other juvenile suspects, according to an Arlington County Police Department crime report and scanner traffic. The officer then called for backup, and police were able to arrest the teen in the vicinity of the food court.

More from the ACPD crime report:

WEAPONS VIOLATION, 2021-01200100, 1100 block of S. Hayes Street. At approximately 2:00 p.m. on January 20, an officer observed five juvenile subjects pass their cruiser and then stop a short distance away, at which point they observed one of the subjects readjusting a firearm in their waistband and then conceal it under clothing. The subjects entered a business and dispersed, however police subsequently located the subject with the firearm a few minutes later and made contact with him. They confirmed their status as a juvenile and located the firearm on their person. Petitions for Carrying a Concealed Weapon and Possession of a Handgun or Assault Firearm by a Juvenile were sought for the juvenile suspect.

Also in today’s crime report, two cars were stolen in the Country Club Hills neighborhood of north Arlington early Wednesday morning. Both cars were reported left outside unlocked, with keys inside.

More from ACPD:

GRAND LARCENY (series), 2021-0120038/01200054, 4400 block of 33rd Street N./4200 block of 32nd Road N. At approximately 8:04 a.m. on January 20, police were dispatched to the 4400 block of 33rd Street N. for report of a stolen vehicle. Upon arrival, it was determined that at approximately 4:59 a.m., the suspect exited a white SUV driven by a second suspect, then gained entry to the victim’s unlocked vehicle and tampered with items. The suspect then entered a second vehicle, which was unlocked with the key inside, and stole it. The vehicle is described as a red 2018 Volkswagen GTI with Virginia license plates. A second vehicle [on] the 4200 block of 32nd Road N., which was unlocked with the keys inside… was also reported stolen overnight. The vehicle is described as a black 2013 BMW M5 with Virginia license plates F10MM5. There are no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

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The season of giving is upon us, and with that, so too is the season of shopping.

The Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is offering new shopping opportunities as a few new stores dot the interior of the mall.

Patrons can now sample spicy items at Pepper Palace or take on a new look at All Star Sports, and will soon be able to buy elevated business casual at Bonobos.

Pepper Palace opened last week on the first floor of the mall. Billing itself as “The Planet’s #1 Hot Shop,” the Pepper Palace is a chain store that offers “small batch, handcrafted, natural, and award winning products,” according to its website.

The store offers a variety of items that include hot sauces you can taste test, plus salsa, jerky, barbeque sauce and seasonings. The specialty retail outlet already has a D.C. area location at National Harbor.

All Star Sports opened at the end of October. The retail chain store offers sportswear as well as licensed apparel for men, women and kids. Items include a variety of items from high school jerseys of NFL and NBA players, to movie apparel, to hats, shorts, hoodies, jerseys and more.

The company has one other local location at Tysons Corner Center.

Finally, Bonobos is slated to open Dec. 20, according to the Fashion Centre’s website. The New York City-based men’s fashion store — noted for its khakis — stakes its claim as a “painless” shopping experience to help men find clothing that “should actually fit.”

Bonobos already has five other “Guideshops” in the region, including two in D.C. — in Georgetown and Columbia Heights — as well as two in Bethesda and one in Tysons.

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One might think that taking photos with Santa is the kind of thing that would get nixed in a pandemic, particularly one that has closed schools. Not so, at least in Arlington.

In an early Christmas miracle, Santa is set to arrive at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City later this month, mall owner Simon announced Monday evening.

“Simon is pleased to announce a safe and socially distanced Santa visit for families as part of the Simon Santa Photo Experience at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City,” said a press release. “Santa arrives on November 27, 2020 and will be available for socially distanced visits until Christmas Eve.”

The arrival date — Nov. 27 — is Black Friday, also known as the day after Thanksgiving.

“For everyone’s safety, visiting Santa will be a socially distanced experience,” Simon said — though it’s unclear what exactly that means in practice, given that sitting on the jolly one’s lap is de rigueur for any proper Santa photo.

The mall owner notes that reservations are required to visit with Santa this year, and that “Santa and his helpers will be wearing masks throughout the duration of each visit.”

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Roasted corn stand “Shuck Shack” will soon be serving local residents on wheels.

The Florida-based franchise opened its first Arlington location in the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City last October. The owner of the local stand announced the food truck addition on Instagram last week.

The restaurant declares itself the “home of the world famous Mexican street corn,” and its employees “cornistas.” Menu items include roasted corn with salt and pepper, Old Bay seasoning, lime-marinade and parmesan cheese, and more — nearly 30 corn flavorings in all.

Vincent Johnson, the owner of the stand, said mall customers responded well to its opening last year.

“Business was really good when we first opened. We got a really good, warm welcome from the community when we first opened. People were really interested in corn and that went well up until January, when the mall began to get kind of slow,” Johnson said. “And of course in March, the mall shut down.”

Since the mall has reopened, Johnson said he’s served customers from around the country.

“Pentagon City mall is an attraction when people come to the area, so we get people from all over the place. And now with the pandemic going on, we’re getting people that are from New Orleans, Texas, Chicago, and California that are coming to the mall and they’re all like ‘I just couldn’t stay in the house anymore. I’ve had enough and I just wanted to go somewhere,'” Johnson said. “It’s really interesting how people have had it with this pandemic.”

Johnson said adding a food truck was something he always envisioned.

“I had a friend who had his own food truck for several years and he did pretty well, so after I opened up in Pentagon City mall, it was kind of a natural progression,” Johnson said. “We’re getting really good feedback in the mall, but of course with the pandemic, some people don’t want to come in the mall, and the thing that I love about the truck is that I can go to where the people are and that’s something that I’m really looking forward to.”

The Shuck Shack food truck will have varying hours of operation, while the restaurant’s hours in the mall will remain the same.

“We have a general plan right now to do daytime, maybe start around 11 a.m., and then maybe around 4 p.m. or 5 p.m. during the week,” Johnson said. “We’re going to start in the downtown Arlington area and try to do lunch around the city. We’re going to add on to our staff and we’re going to have people working in the mall or working on the truck.”

The grand opening for the Shuck Shack food truck is planned for Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the mall in front of Zara and Sugar Factory. The time of the grand opening is still to be determined, but Johnson said customers can follow on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter for more announcements.

Once the truck is up and running, Johnson said he’ll be able to serve “100 to 200 cooked ears every hour.”

Photo via Shuck Shack/Instagram

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Fast-casual vegetarian restaurant Little Beet has closed permanently in Rosslyn.

The eatery opened three years ago at 1800 N. Lynn Street. At the time it was the second Little Beet location in the D.C. area for the growing New York-based chain.

A sign on the door suggests that while the Rosslyn location is closing, more Little Beets are on the way for the region.

“As we continue to grow our presence in the D.C. metro area, we are sad to announce that our Rosslyn location will be closing its doors,” the sign says. Part of our mission is to spread food knowledge and change the perception of vegetable-forward meals. Now it’s time for us to plant new seeds in different neighborhoods.”

“We’ll be expanding in this area in the near future and hope to see you at our 2021 openings,” the sign continues. “Thank you for an amazing journey, Rosslyn!”

Currently, Little Beet’s website lists no open locations in D.C. or Virginia, though the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City still lists a Little Beet location there — which opened late last year — on the mall directory.

Staff photos by Jay Westcott. Hat tip to @mikeywl.

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Arlington County Police are investigating a robbery at the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City.

Initial reports suggest that multiple suspects stole items from the Superdry store in the mall, then fled in a vehicle by ramming one of the mall parking garage gates.

Police followed the vehicle over the 14th Street Bridge and into the District, where the driver crashed into another vehicle near the 12th Street ramp, and all five suspects — believed to be juveniles — ran off, according to scanner traffic. The Superdry merchandise was reportedly tossed into the water below by the fleeing suspects.

So far, there’s no word of any arrests.

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(Updated 8/10) Fashion Centre at Pentagon City is substantially less crowded than it used to be — particularly the food court, back in the heyday of Popeyes chicken sandwiches — but it is busier than might be expected during a pandemic.

In the mall’s food court, while some fast food options are open, others remain closed. Gyro Wrap and Charley’s Philly Steaks are locked up, with a sign on the metal shutter for the latter saying the closure is temporary and the eatery will be returning at some point.

The space that had been Subway is closed, with the Fashion Centre website saying it will eventually be replaced by a new restaurant called Flaming Cajun. The Fashion Centre website says the location is scheduled to open Sept. 4.

Dining in the food court is spaced out, with the crowded booths cordoned off and the handful of diners spaced out across scattered tables. Security guards at various entrances offer protective equipment and sanitary supplies.

Despite officially reopening in late May, the rest of the mall is a similarly mixed bag, with some stores like Gamestop open with limited numbers of guests allowed inside while others remain closed.

“The health, safety and well-being of the community we serve will always be our highest priority, and we have developed a thorough and detailed set of protocols highlighting the exceptional measures we’ve implemented for shoppers, retailers and employees as we reopen,” Jonathan Juricic, General Manager at Fashion Centre at Pentagon City, said in a press release. “We also recognize that individuals and families in our community are suffering significant hardship as a result of both COVID-19 and the economic shutdown, and we believe that reopening our property will not only help people get back to work during these challenging times, but also enable us to use our property to further support charitable initiatives.”

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Arlington is experiencing a rash of car-related crimes, with three separate theft sprees listed in today’s local crime report.

A man was arrested early Friday morning after security at the Pentagon City mall allegedly saw him break into three unlocked vehicles and try to break into two others. The suspect, who was not named, is expected to be charged with larceny from auto.

Around 7 a.m. Friday morning, another series of auto crimes was reported, this time along Glebe Road just south of Lee Highway. Someone smashed the windows of eight vehicles and stole airbags from seven of them, according to Arlington County police.

Around 10 a.m. Friday, police say they were dispatched to the Aurora Highlands neighborhood for a report of multiple vehicles being stolen. They found three cars had been stolen overnight, including a BMW, a Nissan and a Honda.

Arlington County police warned residents last week to lock their car doors and not leave keys in the car, in response to at least 31 cars being stolen in July. The county has also seen multiple carjackings over the past couple of months. Auto crimes are rising in Arlington, according to the latest ACPD annual report.

More on the most recent thefts, from today’s crime report:

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series), 2020-07310016, 800 block of Army Navy Drive. At approximately 1:25 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a tampering with auto in progress. Arriving officers located an individual matching the description provided by security and detained him without incident. The investigation determined that mall security observed the suspect enter approximately three unlocked vehicles and attempt to enter two other locked vehicles unsuccessfully. Charges are pending for the suspect.

LARCENY FROM AUTO (series),  2020-07310042, 2100 block of N. Glebe Road. At approximately 7:09 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of a larceny from auto. Upon arrival, it was determined that between approximately 11:30 p.m. on July 30 and 6:45 a.m. on July 31, an unknown suspect(s) smashed the windows to eight vehicles and stole the airbags from seven of those vehicles. The targeted vehicles were all Honda models. There are no suspect(s) descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

GRAND LARCENY AUTO (series), 2020-07310058/07310087, 600 block of 29th Road S./2300 block of S. Inge Street. At approximately 10:06 a.m. on July 31, police were dispatched to the report of multiple vehicles stolen. Upon arrival, it was determined that approximately 3 vehicles were stolen from the area overnight. The vehicles are described as: VA VKN8674, 2016 Honda Accord, Brown; VA ULY5206, 2016 BMW 428i, Gray; and VA UJT9855, 2020 Nissan Armada, Beige. There are no suspect descriptions. The investigation is ongoing.

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Arlington County has taken an initial step towards the construction of a new elevator for the Pentagon City Metro station.

At a recent meeting, the County Board approved a nearly $750,000 contract with a construction consultancy to manage construction of a new elevator near the Fashion Centre at Pentagon City mall. The new elevator will provide an alternative to an existing Metro elevator on the eastern side of the street, which will also receive some upgrades as part of the $5.1 million project.

“The second elevator will be built on the west side of South Hayes Street, eliminating the need to cross six lanes of traffic, two parking lanes, and a bike lane to reach the existing elevator on the east side,” Arlington County said in a press release. “It will improve ADA accessibility and accessibility for passengers pushing strollers or luggage.”

Funding for the project “comes from federal and state sources and includes $200,000 in General Obligation bond funds, which are used as a local match for a federal grant,” the county said.

Bidding for the actual construction is expected to take place early next year.

More from a project webpage:

The Pentagon City Metrorail Station is one of the highest ridership Metro stations in northern Virginia. It provides access to multiple retail, government and commercial office buildings and is a transfer point for regional and local transit buses and numerous private bus services. Currently, passengers needing to use a street elevator to access the station must enter or exit on the east side of South Hayes Street.

Construction of a second elevator on the west side of South Hayes Street, near the existing west side escalator, will improve access for patrons making transit connections and for Pentagon City retail customers and tourists. It also will provide redundancy for this station entrance when one elevator is out of service for any reason. The project includes improving the appearance of the existing elevator on the east side of South Hayes Street to make it look more contemporary and visible to customers.

Photos via Arlington County and Google Maps

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