Pets can play a large role in renters’ decisions on where to live. From dog parks to pet spas, dog lovers need community amenities that are centered around their furry family members. Seeing a need for dog-centric rental living, Steve Bardack founded Fidus Pet Concierge Communities.
The two Texas-based communities offer 750- to 1,163-square-foot apartments in one- to three-bedroom floor plans. Multifamily Executive caught up with Bardack to learn more about multifamily pet trends and how his idea began.
MFE: Where did the idea behind Fidus Pet Concierge Communities come about?
Bardack: More than 50% of Americans in their 30s own a dog, which is having a profound impact on their housing decisions. As someone who grew up in a family of animal lovers, I experienced the challenges that people encounter when living with dogs in apartment buildings. When I observed the dramatic spike in dog adoptions that occurred during the pandemic, I began to investigate if we could develop a materially better approach to multifamily housing that would meet the needs of dog-owning residents and their pets.
I then identified all of the practical and emotional pain points that dog owners encounter when living in apartment buildings, such as navigating schedule constraints to care for a pet during work hours, or finding a building that doesn’t impose breed or weight restrictions. From there, I set out to design a comprehensive solution that would not only address and solve these pain points, but would ultimately create the best place on the planet for dog owners to live. By incorporating innovative and dog-focused features and technology within every apartment, alongside a collection of shared pet amenities and services that promote convenience at each property, Fidus Pet Concierge Communities solves the need for more hands-on pet care.
MFE: What are some of the dog-focused features and technologies you offer?
Bardack: To start, every apartment features a doggy door that leads to either a private fenced yard or a dog-safe balcony or patio with a porch relief system, along with a pet-focused tech package to help address dog parents’ concerns when they’re away from home.This tech package facilitates on-site, on-demand dog nanny services, which are offered in a concierge-style model, enabling residents to ensure their pets are looked after when they can’t be at the apartment—whether for planned or unexpected circumstances.
These offerings include keyless entry for residents and the Fidus Pet Concierge; a Furbo treats dispenser with artificial intelligence capabilities that alerts residents via text if their dog is barking or in distress; Nest thermostats for remote temperature management; and three cameras so residents can keep an eye on their dogs no matter if they’re indoors or outdoors. Additionally, the upper-level apartments feature acoustic sound-dampening subfloors to keep noise levels at bay.
MFE: How are dogs temperament-tested during the application process?
Bardack: Our apartment communities do not have any blanket breed or weight restrictions. Instead, the resident application process includes in-person temperament tests for each dog, ensuring that every pet resident is friendly. This is a three-phase process that involves interacting with the dog one on one, as well as carefully observing its interactions with other animals. Aggressive dogs are not permitted, regardless of breed or size.
MFE: Are there any misconceptions about Fidus?
Bardack: We initially encountered the misconception that Fidus apartments are more expensive than those within traditional apartment communities. In reality, our rents are directly in line with those associated with comparable apartment homes. We’ve differentiated our residences from the market through dog-focused apartment features, buildingwide amenities, community events, and on-site services—all of which were implemented at incremental costs.
MFE: How will the communities' future Fidus Care Centers concierge work?
Bardack: Residents of Fidus Pet Concierge Communities will soon have access to an array of conveniences afforded by the Fidus Care Center, an on-site pet concierge that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the multifamily sector. Think of it as an on-demand dog nanny service that provides residents with the ultimate levels of freedom, flexibility, and spontaneity, as well as a trusted support network. These centers—the first of which will open at our Equinox on the Park location [in Garland, Texas] in 2023—offer services that include on-site doggy day care, boarding, grooming, dog walking, and in-unit feeding, all of which can be requested via the Fidus mobile app. Since the concierge can facilitate pickup and drop-off of the pet at the apartment, the resident does not need to be at home in order to leverage these services. With that said, the Fidus Care Center will be an incredible resource for residents who may encounter a late night at the office, a last-minute emergency, or unexpected travel and want to ensure their pets are in good hands while they’re away.
MFE: What’s your favorite aspect of the communities?
Bardack: My favorite aspect of Fidus Pet Concierge Communities is the feedback we receive from many of our new residents who often share how much their lifestyle has improved after they move into our apartments. Some residents have cited a newfound schedule independence that resulted from not having to stress about returning home to let their dogs out. Others talk about all of the new like-minded friends they’ve made by participating in community events or hanging out at our upscale dog parks.
My favorite piece of feedback came from a wonderful couple who moved into a Fidus community with their little boy and adopted a dog at one of our adoption events. The father told me how much it means to him and his wife for their son to now have the opportunity to experience the joys of growing up with a dog. He said that without the doggy door and private yard in his apartment home, along with all of the supportive Fidus amenities and services, they would not have been able to do this for their son. The combination of saving a dog’s life through the adoption program, as well as enhancing their son’s childhood by enabling him to grow up with a pet, is priceless for them.
MFE: What does the future hold for the communities? Will the concept be duplicated?
Bardack: There are currently two Fidus communities in operation in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex—Cross Creek at Grapevine Ranch in Grapevine and Equinox on the Park in Garland. We currently have plans to open a third Dallas-area property in 2023 and will acquire and renovate four to six more properties in the Dallas-Fort Worth area over the next two years as part of a larger rollout across the Sun Belt.