Arlington, VA

A business along Lee Highway was robbed by a trio of gun-toting robbers last night, according to Arlington County Police.

Police say two suspects entered a business on the 4500 block of Lee Highway shortly after 11 p.m. Sunday. One of the men pulled out a gun while the other grabbed cash from the register, police said, then the pair ran out and jumped in a getaway vehicle driven by a third man.

Police did not name the business, but the block is home to a 7-Eleven store and the Lee Heights Shops. As of Monday morning, the suspects were still at large.

“The investigation is ongoing,” police said of the case.

More from an ACPD crime report:

ARMED ROBBERY, 2020-03290155, 4500 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 11:15 p.m. on March 29, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that two suspects entered a business and demanded the employee open the cash register. One suspect went behind the counter and brandished a firearm at the victim, while the second suspect began removing cash from the register. The suspects then exited the business with an undisclosed amount of cash and fled in a light colored sedan, driven by a third suspect, prior to police arrival. Suspect One is described as a white male, approximately 5’2″, wearing a black and gray hoodie, khaki shorts and white socks. Suspect Two is described as a black male, wearing a black sweater, black shorts, white socks and slip on shoes. Suspect Three is described as a black male. The investigation is ongoing.

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A lot of local businesses are struggling during the coronavirus outbreak, but at least one seems to be doing just fine.

Nova Armory, the Lyon Park gun store that generated controversy when it opened four years ago, has had lines out the door for at least the past week.

The store at 2300 N. Pershing Drive, which did not respond to a request for comment from ARLnow, said via social media last week that it was only allowing six people inside at a time and increasing sanitation efforts, in order to reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

Gun stores across Virginia have been seeing an increase in business amid the pandemic, NBC 4 reported.

The News 4 I-Team requested statewide data since the beginning of March and found the highest number of requests for background checks, 3,753, on Saturday, March 7, the very day Virginia announced its first COVID-19 case.

In the 10 days that followed, background check requests were up 45% from the same time period last year.

But Virginia State Police say this uptick hasn’t come close to the single-day record of 5,645 background check requests, set on Black Friday in 2019, shortly after Democrats won control of the Virginia legislature.

On Sunday, Nova Armory said it would be shifting to primarily appointment-based sales, starting Tuesday.

“All appointments will take priority over any walk-in customers,” the store said.

Photos courtesy anonymous

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Morning Notes

APS Creates Learning at Home Guide — “We have created a Learning at Home webpage that pulls details on instruction, additional educational resources for families, activities and resources for coping with stress. If you have questions, please send them to [email protected]” [Arlington Public Schools, Twitter]

How to Report Price Gouging in Virginia — “If you see excessive price increases for coronavirus (COVID-19) necessities, report it to Attorney General Mark Herring’s office.” [Facebook, Attorney General Mark Herring]

Costco Encouraging Social Distancing — Costco in Pentagon City has had lines out of the door every morning since the start of the coronavirus crisis. The line has gotten longer — and more spread out — in the interest of social distancing. [Twitter]

Airports Remain Open — Reagan National Airport remains open, reportedly with no plans to limit access. Most stores and restaurants at DCA also remain open, but with modified hours. [Twitter, Twitter]

Signature Theater Show Goes Online — “Signature Theater in Arlington, Va., is looking to make its production of Dani Stoller’s ‘Easy Women Smoking Loose Cigarettes’ available online to ticketholders.” [New York Times]

Ramen Shop Offering Free Food for Seniors — “Gaijin Ramen Shop management and staff are heartbroken by elders without food because of the COVID-19 pandemic… We are offering FREE delivery of fresh vegetable ramen soup to any elderly in need.” [Community Post]

Free Pizza for Kids at Troy’s Italian — “On March 20, from 12-8 p.m. we will be doing free pizza slices for kids. We are also offering contactless curbside pickup. Call us at (703) 528-2828 when you get here, and we will bring the food out, and put it into the trunk of your car for you.” [Facebook]

Vehicle Inspection Enforcement Suspended — “Governor Northam has directed the Virginia Department of State Police to suspend the enforcement of Motor Vehicle Safety Inspections for 60 days.” [Gov. Ralph Northam]

New Local Facebook Page — “Community activist and Arlingtonian Kellen MacBeth has centralized tools and resources for people in need during the coronavirus outbreak. His Facebook page, Arlington Neighbors Helping Each Other Through COVID-19, is up to 2,000 members in just one day of its existence.” [WDVM]

Nearby: Coronavirus Strikes Falls Church Senior Center — “A resident at The Kensington assisted living center in the City of Falls Church has tested positive for COVID-19, the Fairfax County Health Department reported today. It is the first reported case of the coronavirus in the City.” [Falls Church News-Press, Twitter]

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Morning Notes

Rent Rising in Arlington — “The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,840 and for a two-bedroom apartment was $2,130 in Arlington, based on the latest data from Apartment List. The growth rate of 3.7 percent from 12 months before compares to a national increase of 1.7 percent during the same period.” [InsideNova]

Rolling Thunder Rides Again — “The massive Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally staged in Washington each Memorial Day weekend had its final ride last year, but the roar of engines isn’t going away… The 2020 version of the ride has new organizers, a new sponsor and a new name, but participants and spectators might not notice the changes.” [Washington Post]

Bean Bag Chair Store Closes in BallstonYogibo, a casual furniture store specializing in bean bag chairs, has closed at Ballston Quarter mall. [Twitter]

Cat Shot With Arrow Adopted — “Cupid is going home! His new mom and dad were SO excited to meet Cupid and make him a part of the family. He was purring and giving them head-butts right away, and we wish him all the best in his new home!” [Facebook, WJLA]

Watch Out for Coronavirus Scams — “As public health concerns continue to grow surrounding the coronavirus, Attorney General Mark R. Herring is urging Virginians to be wary of any coronavirus related scams. Scams could include selling products that purport to prevent the coronavirus, spreading misinformation, or pretending to solicit donations for victims of the disease.” [Press Release]

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(Updated at 4:10 p.m.) If you want to stock up on hand sanitizer and face masks, you’re going to have a tough time finding any in Arlington.

Numerous stores we checked around the county were completely out of both, amid fears over the coronavirus outbreak. Despite there being no confirmed local cases, shoppers in Arlington seem as eager to hoard supplies as others across the U.S.

The CVS store at Ballston Quarter mall was a typical scene. The shelves this afternoon were mostly bare where face masks, hand sanitizer and Lysol once stood.

Elsewhere around Arlington:

  • The Harris Teeter stores in Shirlington and Pentagon City were completely out of hand sanitizer
  • Ayers Hardware in Westover had only a limited supply of face masks and was imposing a per customer sales limit
  • Preston’s Pharmacy on Lee Highway was out of hand sanitizer, but a clerk said customers were buying aloe and rubbing alcohol to make their own “homebrew” hand sanitizer
  • Cherrydale Hardware on Lee Highway was out of masks
  • Target in Rosslyn was out of hand sanitizer

If you feel you must get your hands on some hand sanitizer — or some face masks despite officials cautioning that they’re ineffective — there might be a solution. A pop-up “coronavirus supply store” opened on Florida Avenue NE in D.C. over the weekend, offering both of the above plus bleach and “preparedness kits.”

Arlington County and Arlington Public Schools officials, meanwhile, say they’re monitoring the outbreak and are continuing to make emergency preparations.

Jay Westcott contributed to this report

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Morning Notes

Amazon Buys Pentagon City Site — “Amazon.com Inc. has quietly purchased the 6.2-acre Pentagon City site where its first pair of HQ2 towers will be built. Acorn Development LLC, an Amazon subsidiary that is often listed when the company files for permits or makes land acquisitions, purchased the Metropolitan Park site on Jan. 15 from JBG Smith Properties (NYSE: JBGS) for $154.95 million, according to Arlington County records.” [Washington Business Journal]

Waverly Hills is Hot — “‘Hot’ is a subjective term in any context, including real estate. While it’s possible to measure the number of sales, price increases and how quickly homes sell, what draws one buyer doesn’t always appeal to other buyers.
According to Redfin real estate brokerage, Willowsford in Ashburn, Va., and Waverly Hills in Arlington are the No. 1 and No. 5 hottest neighborhoods in the country.” [Washington Post]

Next Step for GMU Expansion — “University officials released a request for proposals Tuesday, looking for developers interested in teaming up with Mason to build a new home for the Institute of Digital Innovation on its Virginia Square property. The building is set to include a mix of uses across its 460,000 square feet, with room for classes and research labs alongside space for companies big and small looking to partner with the university.” [Washington Business Journal]

High Water Bill Saga Continues — Residents are still seeking answers to the recent spate of high water bills, even though it appears that the drought — and outdoor irrigation — during that time period is to blame. The COO of Arlington’s Dept. of Environmental Services “said about 3,900 people, 11 percent of the county’s residential customers, had their bills double. He said during the 2016 drought that number was about 2,000 to 2,500 people.” [WUSA 9]

Macy’s to Close Stores — Facing major retail headwinds, Macy’s is planning to close 125 of its stores, nearly a fifth of all of its current stores, over the next three years. So far the exact location of most of the closures have not been announced. There are two Macy’s stores in Arlington, at mall in Pentagon City and Ballston. [Wall Street Journal]

Va. Lawmakers Considering Stronger SLAPP Law — “Many states have enacted tough laws making it harder to get away with so-called SLAPP suits: nuisance litigation designed to bury its targets in paperwork and fees. Virginia, however, is considered friendlier to those kinds of filings, and some experts and advocates say that has become a problem.” [Washingtonian]

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There’s little doubt that a retail apocalypse is underway, though there is some debate about how to assign blame.

Store closures and imminent closures in Arlington since last summer include Abercrombie & Fitch, Swatch and Papyrus at the Pentagon City mall; World Market in Pentagon City; Rite Aid in Crystal City; and Pier 1 in Rosslyn. Malls in Tysons have also seen a spate of recent closures.

Meanwhile, Ballston Common Mall recently underwent an extensive renovation. Instead of retail stores, of which there are but a few, the newly-rebranded Ballston Quarter focuses on restaurants, entertainment, fitness and other “experiential” businesses.

The prime suspect in the retail woes is the rise of e-commerce — driven in large part by a company that’s opening a large new office in Pentagon City. But there are other potential factors: long-time retailers not adapting to the current consumer environment, private equity firms loading retail chains like Toys R Us up with debt and watching them deteriorate, and an over-building of malls and other retail space.

Regardless of the exact set of causes, it is consumer behavior that ultimately controls the fate of retail businesses. So this morning we’re wondering: do you shop at physical retail stores more or less now than you did in 2018?

Let us know why in the comments below.

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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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Arlington County Police are investigating an armed robbery that happened last night in Cherrydale.

The robbery happened around 9 p.m., on the 3500 block of Lee Highway, which is home to a Dunkin Donuts store. Police say a man armed with a gun forced an employee to open a register and stole cash.

The large police presence on the street after the robbery was noted by a local resident.

No injuries were reported. At last check, the suspect remains at large.

More on the robbery from today’s Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ARMED ROBBERY, 2020-01290273, 3500 block of Lee Highway. At approximately 8:54 p.m. on January 29, police were dispatched to the report of an armed robbery. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect entered a business and approached an employee behind the counter. The suspect displayed a firearm and threatened the employee, demanding they open the cash register. He stole an undisclosed amount of cash from the register, then forced the employee upstairs, where the suspect forced entry to a secure office, causing damage. Nothing additional was reported stolen from the office. The suspect fled prior to police arrival. The suspect is described as a black male, approximately 25-26 years old, 5’8″-6’0″, wearing a jacket, gray pants, black boots, black gloves and a black mask. The investigation is ongoing.

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Two D.C. men were arrested and are facing a number of charges after allegedly stealing items from a local store.

The incident happened just before midnight Saturday on the 3600 block of Columbia Pike, which is the same block as a 7-Eleven store. (Arlington County Police have a policy of not explicitly identifying businesses that were victims of crime.)

“Three suspects were observed allegedly entering a business and selecting merchandise, then exiting without paying,” according to an ACPD crime report. “The suspects, who matched the descriptions of suspects in a prior case, entered a vehicle and fled.”

An alert officer on patrol saw the vehicle in question in a parking lot and “attempted to make contact with the occupants.”

“The driver of the suspect vehicle then struck two vehicles in the lot in an attempt to leave the location,” said the crime report. “One suspect was removed from the vehicle and taken into custody without incident. The other two suspects fled the scene on foot. The second suspect was located nearby and taken into custody. The third suspect remains outstanding.”

“During the course of the investigation, officers located stolen merchandise from the business inside the vehicle and Suspect One was determined to have been involved in a prior larceny case,” the crime report continues. “Kentrell Devaughn, 26, of Washington, D.C. was arrested and charged with Grand Larceny (x2), Conspiracy to Commit Grand Larceny (x2), Possession with Intent to Distribute a Controlled Substance and Destruction of Property (>$1000). He was held on no bond. Jeffrey Keith, 54, of Washington, D.C. was arrested with Grand Larceny and Conspiracy to Commit Grand Larceny. He was held on no bond.”

The investigation is ongoing, police said.

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If the shelves are looking a little bare in the underground Rite Aid at 1671 Crystal Square Way, it’s because the store is set to close next month.

A sign at the front says the pharmacy is scheduled to close Monday, Feb. 17, and staff at the store said the full store is planned to close sometime later that month.

“The rest of it is being liquidated,” a store manager said. “It’s likely to close by the end of February.”

Signs at the store told visitors that their pharmacy records will be transferred to the Walgreens at 1301 S. Joyce Street.

The store, located at the north end of the sprawling underground complex, was still in fairly heavy use yesterday (Thursday) with visitors taking advantage of scattered discounts across the store. It’s closing despite the arrival of Amazon’s HQ2 in the area.

While the store is slowly getting rid of its inventory, many of the shelves further back in the store with toiletries and other goods are still well-stocked, along with a plentiful supply of beer and White Claws.

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