By MAX GROSS
THERE are buildings in New York that will wow you - and then there are the ones that will bowwow you.
We are speaking, of course, of the pet palaces cropping up in the city’s luxury condos. They’re bursting with dog runs, pet spas, doggie treadmills and other trickedout animal amenities that were unheard of a decade ago. And if you think that this is the mere passing fad of one or two peculiar buildings, think again. Pet benefi ts are only going to increase in glitziness (not to mention silliness).
New York City has always had a complicated relationship with its pets. While New York is the undisputed dog and cat capital of the country - the ASPCA estimates that there were 5 million owned and stray animals in 2005, and the Health Department issued 101,274 dog licenses last year - the city's standard lease does not allow for pets. And many co-ops are notoriously strict in keeping out dogs and birds.
But New Yorkers are also unflinchingly loyal to their pets, from the Harlem man who couldn't bring himself to part with his 425-pound Bengal tiger back in 2003, to the cat-happy resident with a dozen felines that can be found in many buildings.
And now, it's easier than ever to be a pet owner.
"All the new buildings are pet-friendly," says Gregg Oehler, executive director for pet resource site petstyle.com, and former publisher of New York Dog magazine.
When given an opportunity to pamper their pets, you can bet owners will do so.
"Pets are basically the children of the pet owners," says Ramona Mahtani, director of sales and marketing for The Developers Group.
Madeline Dale, a Halstead Property broker who tracks the city's best pet-friendly haunts, is more blunt: "Most New York City dogs are treated better than kids," says Dale.
For years, pet fanatics were forced to choose the right neighborhoods, rather than the right building.
"None of the old buildings have accommodations for pets," says Dale. "They have a bike room" rather than pet amenities.
"Some are incredibly friendly - they give out dog biscuits - but they always put in storage or a playroom" instead of a pet spa.
"If I was a dog, I'd want to live between Central Park and Riverside Park," says dog trainer Maggie Wood, a Ph.D. candidate in Animal Behavior who lives with her dog near Riverside Drive.
Wood is pretty disdainful of any place below Central Park South.
"From a cat perspective, you can live anywhere," says Wood. "But for a dog owner, how big your dog is, how much exercise he needs - these are issues."
But that has started to change on a wide scale. And as buildings lay on the amenities, two of the most common we're seeing are pet spas and dog runs. Looks like there's a new breed in town.
505 Greenwich St.
This was an early pioneer of the super pet-friendly building. When it opened last year, 505 Greenwich had a pet spa. But that was really just the beginning.
Every few weeks, residents at the 104-unit condo - where prices are going from $1,300 to $1,400 per square foot - have regular dog-committee meetings.
The committee discusses doggie outings (its last group trip was to New England), doggie parties (there are doggie birthday parties in the lobby) and the latest ideas on making the place even more pet-friendly.
"I'd say about half the people in the building are pet owners," says Jason Walker, senior vice president at Prudential Douglas Elliman, who also is the president of the building's board.
"We're talking about putting a dog treadmill in" the pet spa.
"It's like a regular treadmill, only smaller," Walker explains.
There are plans to paint a mural in the spa and even talk about turning the building's courtyard into a dog run.
In short, 505 Greenwich is a little slice of doggie heaven.
William Beaver House
It would be tough to think up a more animal-friendly name for a building than Andre Balazs' William Beaver House in the Financial District. (Actually, the project was named after the intersection of William and Beaver streets, not a toothy, semi-aquatic rodent. But we can pretend.)
In addition to the glass bottom Jacuzzis, a screening room with "cinema beds" (we're not sure, so don't ask), sun terraces and everything else the new construction offers, there will be a shmancy outdoor dog run.
Don't think pooper-scoopers and red rubber balls. Try Japanese garden, a man-made pond and a view of the "lake" - er, swimming pool.
The building, slated to be finished in spring 2008, has studios starting at around $800,000 and duplex penthouses for $3.5 million.
205 E. 59th St.
Rocky Pierratos is living the life...
This 10-year old Toy Fox Terrier has a terrace that would make his fellow canines drool with envy.
When 205 E. 59th St. opened this year, it reserved a huge part of its outdoor terrace as a 1,500-square-foot "puppy park." With four little bridges where dogs can run over to their heart's content, a ready supply of pooper-scooper bags and a view of Bloomingdale's, this building offers one of the city's best outdoor spaces for dogs.
Owners can sit on the terrace's deck chairs and bask in the Midtown glory. A 1,314-square-foot two-bedroom can be yours for $1,900,000.
Daycare is tough to turn down in this city, and Sheffield57, at 322 W. 57th St., which will be ready for occupancy in March, promises the best for your Yorkshire Terrier.
"The concierge is going to organize grooming services and activities for pets," says The Developers Group's Mahtani.
A planned pet spa will go well beyond hosing down your dog. There will be grooming stations that will offer a full shampoo, haircut and whatever injections are needed. And the 867-unit building - which has units starting at $645,000 - won't be so bad for the owners, either, considering that it also comes with a pool, yoga studio, gym and restaurant.
Murray Hill is one of the city's most under-appreciated pet-friendly area.
It is one of the few parts of Manhattan that is not choking with mobs of people, and thus makes for pretty good walks (given the fact that there isn't a blade of grass in sight). And it's also home to For Pet's Sake (the current incarnation of Doggie-Do and Pussycats Too, one of the legendary upscale pet shops in the city) on 38th Street.
When The Charleston, at 34th Street between Second and Third avenues, opens next year, there will be a somewhat reasonably priced luxury building with a dog run on the roof. Studios are going for around $500,000.
Thursday, December 28, 2006