How DC's Apartments Have Gone to the Dogs

  • January 17th 2014

by Lark Turner

How DC's Apartments Have Gone to the Dogs: Figure 1
Emmy, the new bulldog at 2M. Courtesy of 2M.

DC may be losing its kids, but judging by the over-the-top amenities at new apartment buildings, the dogs are more than safe.

Private dog parks. A rooftop agility course. An amenity described as “a car wash for your dog.” 2M in NoMa is even touting an English bulldog puppy who will be available for belly rubs at the front desk, an extreme version of the trope about a guy who buys a cute dog to help pick up women. (Cat owners, it seems, aren’t the focus of these dog-centric amenity battles.)

Though some older buildings in the city accept pets, renters there are frequently met with breed and weight restrictions. Not so in many of the newer buildings vying for pet lovers’ rent. In place of restrictions, buildings often section off specific apartments for pet owners, who are asked to pay an up-front fee of several hundred dollars and are frequently charged a monthly “pet rent.”

The head-spinning amenities might seem strange given that DC has one of the lowest percentages of pet ownership in the country, according to a recent study. That applies to other metro areas, too: In New York City, an estimated one in three households has a pet; in DC, that rate is about 21.9 percent, slightly higher than in 2006 (20.2 percent).

Those pet owners are obviously a demographic that new residential projects find worthwhile. In addition to a movie theater and multiple lounges, residents at Archstone’s First and M (map) can take their pets to D’Tails Pet Salon, a sizeable spa that features grooming tools, freshly-laundered towels and different-sized grooming stations for dogs of varying size. Across the street, a field offers easy relief for pets — but if that’s not convenient enough, would-be renters can take their business to nearby 2M, which boasts a private dog park.

How DC's Apartments Have Gone to the Dogs: Figure 2
D’Tails Pet Salon shortly before it opened.

At City Market at O, the multi-block development around 9th and O Street NW (map), a grooming center and a dog park are old news. When the apartments there are finished, they will have combined those two amenities, added an agility course, and put it all on the roof. The whole thing will be more than 200 feet long. The artificial turf will even have its own built-in drainage, and the company plans to have cleaners come in to rinse it down every day.

“We’re centered around the idea that not only is your dog welcome here, but we want your dog here,” Giannina Alvarez, the building’s leasing manager. “We want to make sure residents are getting something with their pet fee.”

That fee will run renters $500 at move-in for one pet, and $800 for two, as well as $60 per month for each dog. Those fees are not atypical at many of these pet-friendly new buildings.

Leasing companies aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed that dog owners are profit centers. One dog-walking service got its start due to First and M, according to one of its employees.

“There’s a lot for dogs to do here,” said Sam Adams, a 23-year-old former Archstone resident and a current dog-walker, who related his experience in the building with a pug at his side. “It’s a nice place for people and dogs to congregate.” Adams, who still lives in NoMa, said the business has expanded significantly as more dog-friendly developments open in the area.

How DC's Apartments Have Gone to the Dogs: Figure 3
A rendering of the rooftop at O Street Market.

Even less amenity-heavy buildings are getting in on the act. Both Aria on L (map) and AVA H Street (map) opened with dog-friendly strategies at the ready, inviting local businesses like Atlas Vet and Metro Mutts, a local pet store and dog-walking service, to advertise to tenants.

And don’t expect the competition to slow down any time soon, as proven by an amenity at the new Southwest DC apartment building Sky House: an automated dog wash.

“It’s kind of like a car wash for dogs,” a Sky House staff member said. “You take your pet downstairs, you put them in the bin, you pick the cycle — there’s even the flea cycle — and then it cleans your dog. I don’t know of any other apartment complexes that have it.”

Well, at least not yet.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/fighting_for_the_districts_dog_owners/8012.

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