San Francisco luxury apartments are going to extreme measures to lure renters back to the city—targeting their beloved pets.
The new apartments at the 27-story complex Chorus SF come complete with Teslas for tenants, a theater, a rooftop pool and posh pet perks—including a pet spa.
On Friday afternoon, The Standard commandeered a chihuahua named Renesmee, and toured the building's luxurious pet amenities, which becoming commonplace in Downtown high-rises
The basement “pet spa,” around the corner from the Teslas that tenants can use to spin their pooches around town, residents have access to two professional-grade pet tubs, aprons, shampoo, conditioner and a blow dryer.
At the front desk, a door attendant welcomes furry guests with unlimited treats. Up on the ninth floor, owners can let their pups out for a sprint on the artificial-grass dog run. Chorus also helps arrange dog-walking and pet-sitting services.
Millions of Americans adopted pets while they were stuck at home during the pandemic. The influx of furry friends appears to have driven a new pet-centric trend in the Bay Area and beyond among posh urban apartment complexes and condominiums competing for well-heeled tenants.
“We have tons of dogs, and most of our team has pets,” said Chorus sales manager Olivia Williams, who is also a dog owner.
Williams said every building run by Sentral, which operates Chorus, has some kind of pet spa or park, especially in its new developments.
“Before, you could only really have a dog if you had a backyard,” Williams said.
Take the Fillmore Center. The centrally located, multi-building apartment complex has been a staple of the Fillmore District since the 1980s and, since early 2020, has installed no fewer than three on-site dog parks.
“There just was no space for the dogs," said a building manager at the complex, which comprises 10 buildings and spans three city blocks. He did not give his name as he was not authorized to speak with the press. "We installed them so residents have a place to walk them that’s not on the street.”
“We don’t really have a great dog space—the apartment buildings are all condos and building spaces, but they don’t offer the space for, like, a long run for your dog or getting together with a group of corgi owners,” said Andrew Robinson, the East Cut Community Benefit District’s executive director. “We see the dog park as sort of a hub for the neighborhood.”
The Wall Street Journal first reported the rise of pet amenities nationwide, but San Franciscans are perhaps the perfect clientele for these extras. The city boasts not one, but two different fancy food stores for dogs, including Standard-reviewed Dogue cafe. Urban legend has it that there are more dogs than children in San Francisco.
Dog Poo Detectives
Apartment pet perks can veer into the quirky and over-the-top. Apartment communities in the South Bay and Oakland, for example, partner with PooPrints, a company that uses pet DNA to track down inconsiderate dog owners who don’t pick up after their pup.
“The benefits are increased residence satisfaction, and property managers can save time not having to pick up dog waste or dealing with resident complaints,” said Nick Boosalis, a former property manager and current PooPrints representative, who noted that the service is a selling point.
Boosalis says his business idea had its skeptics when PooPrints was founded over a decade ago. But today, an increasing number of apartment complexes and building managers are interested in partnering with PooPrints, largely to attract new renters and boost property values. PooPrints has a client base of over 7,000 communities, including roughly 400 in California.
“The beauty of PooPrints is simple," Boosalis said. "Once the dog owner has registered their dog, they now know they can be identified by their un-scooped waste. So guess what people do?”
Puppy Boom Spurs Apartment Changes
Nearly one in five households got a pet in the last three years, according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“We see an overwhelming number of dogs," said Robinson, who blamed dog pee for dying trees in the East Cut—a reason the community benefit district is pushing for more dog parks.
But as pandemic restrictions lifted, it became clear to new pet owners that the life of a quarantined pet parent is very different from that of an in-office worker. The changing landscape of pet care has also meant that there is a shortage of veterinarians and more animals are being euthanized across California. Packed doggy day cares boast monthslong waiting lists, including at some in San Francisco.
In the meantime, the exodus of office workers in Downtown San Francisco has put a damper on real estate, and developers are going to great lengths to fill apartment vacancies.
And though fancy pet services may sound enticing, they aren't really complimentary. Most apartments boasting pet amenities charge sky-high rents and may tack on additional pet fees, ranging anywhere from $75 per month—the fee at Chorus—to hundreds of dollars for pet security deposits.
Still, for new complexes like Chorus, pet-centered offerings and community building have been wildly successful marketing tools. The complex opened in 2021 and has almost filled its more than 400 units.
“More and more, we’re seeing that we have dogs with us wherever we go,” Williams said. “Having amenities as a pet parent, it makes our lives easier and just adds to the experience. We don’t have to go outside for everything.”