When Libby Jamison and her husband Brian moved to the District from San Diego in November, 2019, they wanted to make the adjustment as easy as she could for Blarney, their 12-year-old Boston Terrier.
Blarney left behind the wide-open spaces of his suburban backyard, and she wanted to replicate that as much as possible, even while living in an apartment. Then, as they prepared to move, Jamison discovered that Blarney had developed cataracts.
“I was really concerned about moving essentially a blind dog from this environment that he knew and could navigate into an entirely different environment that he’d have to figure out,” she said.
It was easier than she expected. Jamison and her family settled into the Park Chelsea at The Collective (880 New Jersey Ave. SE), a 429-unit luxury building with amenities including a 75-foot indoor lap pool, another on the roof, an indoor golf range, and most important to Blarney, a rooftop pet park and main-floor pet salon.
It had been years since Jamison had lived in an apartment. She was overwhelmed by the amenities in general and surprised by the offerings for tenant pets. “The pet stuff was definitely a bonus. I thought moving into an apartment was, you know, running the dog up and down the stairs all the time to try to get outside. It’s definitely been less stressful than I expected going into apartment living,” she said.
“Dog-Friendly” in Demand
According to a 2015 report by the National Apartment Association, more than 70 percent of current and prospective tenants have pets. In 2019, “dog-friendly” was the most sought-after apartment feature on apartments.com, followed closely by “cat-friendly.” Luxury apartments are increasingly designing pet amenities to attract these tenants.
At the Park Chelsea, Jamison can take Blarney for a quick three-floor ride up to the rooftop pet park, enjoying the view of the Capitol Building on the way. “It [the pet park] is just a little more out in the open and seems a little more central to the building than some of the others I had seen,” she said.
“Plus there is the dog park right across the street from the Whole Foods, [the Bark and Go Park] and one right on Canal Park —and I think that’s Blarney’s favorite spot,” Jamison said. I Blarney gets muddy playing in the park, Jamison can wash him in the complex’s pet spa, where everything is laid out for a far more convenient (and far less messy) bath than is possible in her apartment.
Samantha Branchaud, Vice President, Property Management for developer and property manager WC Smith, is unsurprised that Jamison selected her home based in large part on the needs of her dog. Branchaud said the market has been moving in this direction for years. Residents want to live in luxury apartments, and they want their pets to feel comfortable, too.
“It’s demand driven, and a lot of us have pets of our own so we can see why,” said Branchaud.
Amenities and Events
Nearly 20 percent of the residents in each of the two WC Smith developments, The Collective and 2M (2 M St. NE) have pets. At Capitol Hill luxury apartments The Lockwood (1339 E St. SE), 50 percent of residents have pets. They are attracted by the amenities in the building, and in the community. While the Lockwood has its own pet spa, Bonnie’s Dog and Cat Grooming is also located just across the street and the building has a partnership with local pet-walking and care business Beasties.
“All of our amenities are human and pet friendly, from the conservatory to the Belva Pub to the rooftop terrace,” said Bozzuto Regional Vice President Lauren Jarboe. In non-COVID times, many buildings hold special events where dogs can take a swim in the pool.
But pet amenities are not limited to grooming and taking a dip. Staff at the luxury developments also take care to include pets when planning events. Recently, the Lockwood arranged for WoofBowl, a food truck for dogs, to stop by to serve up custom pet trays during a street food festival for the furry tenants.
Over at The Collective, Events Director Ashley Weatherly not only plans Yappy Hours for pets and owners that include “puppachinos” and non-alcoholic doggie beer, but last year on Halloween eve, organized happy trick-or-treating. Tenants dressed their dogs and children (sometimes both) up in costume and took them to visit participating apartments to show off their costumes.
Pets love treats, and staff love the pets. Nabila, a leasing agent with Meridian on First (1000 First St. SE), said that dogs know that the concierge, like those at other buildings, keeps treats to give to her doggie visitors. “They’ll run around her desk, and she just loves it.”
Pets Build Community
Landlords also recognize the attraction of pets, even to those residents who don’t have one themselves. At NoMA’s 2M Apartments, there is a courtyard with a pet run and dog park, where residents meet for puppy playdates.
But one of the main attractions at 2M is Emmy, the English Bulldog, who has her own following on Instagram. Residents can visit her in the leasing office and get a dose of puppy love.
Her purpose, said Branchaud, is to give all residents the benefits of pet ownership, especially stress relief. Tenants can take her for walks and bathe her.
“One resident gave her a blueberry facial,” Branchaud said.
Pets build community in many ways. Meridian on First runs a ‘Pet of the Month’ contest. Residents submit photos and a little story, winning prizes and social media glory when their pet is chosen.
But residents also meet one another through their pets, both at the physical amenities and the pet-centered events for pets and their owners. Jamison, the Park Chelsea resident who moved from San Diego last November, said that the primary way she has met new people has been through Blarney. She admits that she often learns the pet names before those of their owners, seeing them regularly as she visits the rooftop dog park or encounters a familiar pup in the lobby.
“I think the dogs are such an essential part to how, at least on my end, people are connecting right now —because everyone feels so isolated,” she said. Jamison said having a pet and a community helps relieve some of the stress many are experiencing right now. Easily accessing some amenities just makes life a lot easier.
Learn more about Meridian on First by visiting www.meridianonfirst.com or calling 202-335-3000 and about the Park Chelsea and the residences at The Collective by visiting thecollectivedc.com or calling 844-434-7121. Explore Capitol Hill complex the Lockwood by calling 833-340-8434 or visiting www.thelockwooddc.com. See more of Emmy the Bulldog and 2M Apartments at 2mstreet.com or call 844-701-3235.