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Doggie daycare: next big thing?

Doggie daycares have pawed their way into the retail real estate market and seem to be growing in packs.

"Doggie daycares continue to be a growing trend. They are enjoying an explosive expansion similar to health clubs," said Faith Hope Consolo, chairman, Retail Leasing and Sales Division, Prudential Douglas Elliman.

"There have been more and more offers for doggie daycares in the Upper East and Upper West sides of Manhattan, because there are so many more professionals with dogs, couples with dogs, singles with dogs, dogs with dogs," joked Consolo, who receives pictures of dogs with party hats celebrating their birthday parties along with the proposals for sites for doggie services.

One of those recent expansions was Running Paws, a dog-walking venture taken to the next level by partners Joshua Stine and Seth Chodosh who initially created their firm to offer dog owners a great workout for their pets rather than a quick dash to the local dog run. Their new Running Paws Athletic Club is an all day health club for dogs offering everything from sports to acupuncture for pets.

"We've been able to capture a niche market for clients who want to have their dogs get more exercise during the day ," said Stine. "We took our approach to dog walking and knew that to grow our business we would have to build a doggy daycare that would stay consistent with fitness."

Winick Realty brokers Paulette Powell and Richard Kave helped the partners find the ideal space for their new venture and their Running Paw's Athletic Club is set to open May 14 at a two-level, 4,500 s/f space at 61st Street and First Avenue.

Running Paws Athletic Club will be able to offer all day play, fitness sessions as well as home services. All three programs can be combined and customized to the specific need of each individual dog. During their day, dogs can choose from a game of tennis, Frisbee, soccer or football. they can run indoors or outdoors, get groomed in the spa or have acupuncture in the health club. They can even check in for a longer stay if their owner plans to be out of town.

"We are also going to offer community time spots, where the dog and owners community can rent out space for group play dates and birthday parties, for dogs that get along with each other, or if an aggressive dog needs a ball tossed to him privately," said Stine.

According to Kave, "There's quite a few doggie daycares expanding in the city and, as New Yorkers get busier and busier, we don't want to ignore our pets, so they are very well received.

"The challenge with finding a spot for Running Paws was that they needed enough space to have a dog run in the building. It was hard to find a landlord that allowed pets, and space big enough for the jogging," added Kave, who was able to find two floors equaling 4,500 s/f for the company.

According to brokers, the recent flurry of pet care facility openings is just the tip of the iceberg and it might not be too long before they start swallowing up space in luxury condos and office buildings. "People spend a lot of money on dogs, especially in Manhattan. They also spend a lot of time in the office," said Kave who added that it might make sense to have such facilities located either in or close to major employers.

Faith Consolo, though, isn't holding her breath. "It took years to get childcare centers in office buildings, so I don't know how they're going to do that with dogs--but anything is possible."
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Title Annotation:Retail Markets
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 9, 2007
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