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Americans spend more than $50 billion a year on their pets. It should therefore come as no surprise that apartment owners would want to take a bite out of that lucrative market. After all, not every Rex or Rover lives in a single-family doghouse in the backyard. Many are apartment dwellers.
"You've really got to figure out what adds the most value for what the residents want, and for right now, in a setting like this, especially in a dog-friendly building, it's 'what can you do for my pet?'" says Mark Hannan, manager at Senate Square apartments in downtown Washington.
Hannan's building offers a rooftop dog park, complete with puppy-sized playground equipment and side-by-side water fountains for mutt and master.
"Pet areas are great opportunities for underutilized areas. Even during the downturn, the pet business continued to thrive. People love their dogs and are willing to pay for them," says Stephen Adams, managing director for LaSalle Investment Management, which owns Senate Square.
Tenants must pay a $500 fee upfront for access and then $50 a month. Depending on the building, location and amenities, the fees can be far higher.
"We had no idea the dog park was even here, but as soon as they said that, I was like, we're done!" remarks Michele Shakeshaft, dog owner and tenant.
Doggie business is becoming big business, especially in large urban markets where the apartment market is raging hot. In Manhattan, the Spot Experience describes itself as New York's premier and fastest-growing dog services provider. Founded by a former NFL player and hedge fund manager, Mitch Marrow, the company offers pet amenities to 30 residential buildings in Manhattan and just announced it is partnering with Gateway, a residential complex in lower Manhattan. According to the press release:
"The dog amenity program provides Gateway residents with a complimentary Spot membership along with exclusive discounted services and priority access to the highest level of daycare, cage-free overnights, dog walking, transportation, grooming and training services at Spot locations in New York City. Spot also provides a designated shuttle service, which includes highly trained dog handlers for pick-up and drop-off of pets."
"Our dog concierge program continues to grow at lightning speed," says Morrow in the release.
Charges vary building to building, depending on the level of services, and those services are getting ever more creative. From dog washing stations to pet "spas," from "Yappy Hours" to free swim for dogs in the pool, a "paw-dicure" is becoming paw-r for the course.
Just recently Fisher Brothers, a New York-based commercial and residential development and property management company, announced the groundbreaking for a new, Class A apartment complex on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. On the list of amenities, in between the business center and the rooftop pool deck, it boasts that residents, all residents, may enjoy the "Interior Pet Spa with exterior dog walk."