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A new dog daycare facility is coming to Clarendon, but there may be a snag

(Updated at 2:25 p.m.) A D.C.-based dog daycare and boarding facility is making its first foray out of the nation’s capital with a Clarendon outpost.

District Dogs will move into The Crossing Clarendon shopping center (formerly Market Common Clarendon) in February or March, owner Jacob Hensley tells ARLnow. In addition to daycare and boarding, District Dogs provides other services such as grooming and training.

“We’re very excited to come to Arlington,” he said. “Right now, we have the designs finished and construction plans out to bid. We should be getting bids and contractors in the next couple of weeks or so, and we expect to be open late winter or early spring.”

The business will front Wilson Blvd, according to a photo sent by Hensley, in a ground floor space between the Whole Foods and where Iota Club used to be.

There is one hurdle to surmount: zoning rules about how many dogs can be boarded per night. According to a zoning determination this summer, District Dogs can operate in Clarendon as a doggie daycare and grooming facility, with overnight boarding for up to three dogs. Any more overnight occupants, and it’s considered by the county a “kennel,” which is not allowed on the property either by-right or through a special exception permit.

Regency Centers, which owns The Crossing, is appealing the decision on Hensley’s behalf. Either way, District Dogs can move in, Hensley says.

“District Dogs will be able to offer daycare, boarding, grooming and training services in the Clarendon location regardless of the outcome,” he said. “I can’t comment further [about zoning issues] because of how complicated it is and I don’t want to get the details wrong.”

The forthcoming Arlington location will be Hensley’s fifth. He started District Dogs in 2014 as a one-man dog-walking business and opened his first brick-and-mortar facility in 2016 in D.C. Since then, he’s added two more D.C. locations, with a fourth under-construction.

Clarendon was a natural choice, since District Dogs targets markets with a mix of apartments and single-family homes, and many clients come to D.C. from Northern Virginia, he said.

Hensley says Arlington’s urban corridors need more of these kinds of dog-care facilities, as many existing providers are located in warehouse and industrial districts. Many customers will be able to walk to District Dogs, compared to having to drive somewhere a distance away.

“We’re bringing a more urban dog daycare experience that’s more convenient for people and where they live,” he said.

Hensley said District Dogs aims to make dogs and their humans feel comfortable. For pet owners, that means providing web-cameras so they can check in, as well as operating in spaces with lots of windows.

“We’re really just trying to show everything that goes on,” he said. “That’s what’s lacking in a lot of facilities, which can be old and run-down in a warehouse.”

Hensley attributes his ability to expand in part to COVID-19. People adopted more dogs during the pandemic and now need the services he provides, particularly weeknight, overnight boarding.

“Our facilities in D.C. are pretty much at-capacity in a daily basis,” he said. “In addition to new dogs, since people can work remote, people are traveling more… Because people’s work is so much more flexible, not just travel but the length of travel is increasing.”

Once District Dogs settles into Clarendon, locals can expect dog-friendly community activities.

“We have a great online community, and we try to do events at restaurants, bars and parks,” Hensley said. “We’re trying to bring a sense of dog community to the Arlington area — we want to be a part of it and help foster it.”

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