Architecture and Design

Developers embrace perks for pets

Pet amenities are now viewed as an important part of why people choose to live somewhere, prompting developers to embrace the concept in projects

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 May, 2016, 3:47pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 May, 2016, 3:47pm

JUICE bars, spin studios, Zen gardens and outdoor kitchens with fire pits for communal use: apartment dwellers around the world these days are spoilt for choice when it comes to sophisticated on-site perks. And now, they’re expecting a few extra courtesies to be extended to their four-legged friends as well.

Developers in the US are increasingly incorporating amenities to make Fido happy - whether it’s a dog run, pet spa, or a concierge who can be hired to take man’s best friend for a walk around the block.

“It’s definitely something that’s growing in popularity,” said Rob Neiffer, director at Invesco Real Estate in New York, which counts among its holdings the Instrata Lifestyle Residences in the US.

“Pets are part of your family and lifestyle,” Neiffer continued. “And we realised when we were launching the brand that we needed to embrace them.”

The trend appears to be slower to take off in Asia than in the US. While there are residential buildings in Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian cities that are “pet-friendly”, it’s a big jump between that and laying on special facilities for the family animal. An exception to that would be the upscale Motoazabu Hills Forest Tower residential tower in Tokyo, where pets have their own special footbath.

At the Instrata buildings in New York and Dallas, pets are more than adequately catered to. The tower in Manhattan, Instrata NoMad, recently completed a US$7 million renovation that includes a pet spa with groomers and grooming stations. Its Dallas location, Instrata at The Ashton Uptown, has its own private pet park for residents and their dogs, while the Brooklyn building, Instrata Park Slope has a full-service pet spa.

“Our residents are thrilled and delighted when they see these amenities,” said Neiffer, adding that the dog-friendly options have helped seal the deal for potential tenants trying to decide between one building and another. And Neiffer says more and more developers are looking at incorporating the offerings into new buildings.

“There’s no downside. It isn’t expensive to allow your residents to have pets. It makes sense for developers to embrace that notion. “ Other perks for pets, he said, include an in-building ‘Yappy Hour’ where tenants can socialise with one another while their pets play.

At the upcoming sprawling Metropolis development in downtown LA, which will encompass three towers with 1,500 units - the first will be available for occupancy this year - there will be a sizeable dog park with its own bathing and grooming facilities. Similarly, The Emerson, a building in downtown LA, has a dog run with a 24-hour pet spa, with a concierge service option if the tenant is too busy to take their dog in themselves. And at Level, also in downtown LA, canines can access a Treat Bar in the lobby.

“[Flat owners] were getting the workout facilities, the pool, every amenity they could want. But then they started saying, ‘Oh, I have a dog,’”, said Jim Jacobson, senior vice president of sales, Douglas Elliman Real Estate development marketing.

Jacobson said that when plans were initially underway for the Metropolis complex, “the concept of a dog park was still unique.

“We will have an outdoor amenity deck that is over an acre in size with water features and a pool. And we decided to take a good-sized corner of it and make it a dog park.” About 20 per cent of the outdoor space for residents is given over to their furry companions, including a grassy area for them to run in as well as tunnels and other structures they can jump on.

“When we were thinking of amenities, we were thinking of expectations,” said Jacobson. “When we put in something as simple as a dog park, or offering dog-washing stations, from a seller’s side it doesn’t take a lot of maintenance. But the [tenants] are attracted to the fact that as developers, we thought of everything.”

Benjamin Brosseau, vice president of Camden Property Trust, which developed the new The Camden in Hollywood, said that pet amenities are now “a very important part of why people choose to live somewhere. “We survey our tenants all across the country, and this was one of the most requested amenities nationwide,” he said.

At The Camden, amenities include a dog wash with two stations for different-sized dogs, and a Dog Den - where dogs and their owners socialise. There is also a dog-friendly rooftop deck, and water bowls and treats all over the property.

“Our driving force was trying to make the building more than just bricks and mortar,” said Brosseau. “The idea is to appeal to the lifestyle of people who live in [these urban areas]. The tenant profile in buildings change over time, and it’s important to take note of what people want.”