An early downtown Dallas pioneer is leaving camp right as the neighborhood is getting more dense. Petropolitan, the retail, grooming, and boarding business for urban pets, will close its location at 408 S. Harwood St., and shift all of its operations to its second, newer location in Oak Cliff.
Co-founder Chris Watts says that he and his partner, Todd Fisher, regret leaving the downtown area, but their departure was inevitable. They're planning on leaving at the end of June or July.
"Oak Cliff is doing great, but our business at the downtown location has been down compared to last year," Watts says. "And the other point is that the land we're on is being acquired by Belo, so it's just a matter of time before we're forced out. We're trying to do this the right way."
They're starting to phase out their boarding first, and will shut down the daycare and grooming as their closing date nears.
The downtown location is in the parcel of mostly unoccupied land on the eastern edge of downtown that is slated to become part of Harwood Park, one of a quartet of parks being planned by the Belo Foundation.
"We opened in 2006 when there was nothing down there," Watts says. "We wanted to help people living in the downtown area who wanted to have animals. Downtown has since become a vibrant community, and we feel like we were pioneers in that regard."
In 2015, they opened a much larger branch in Oak Cliff, where they're having a similarly positive impact, offering not only the traditional services for pet owners but also serving as a mini-depot for outreach with information and spay/neuter services.
Watts is a well-known advocate for animals and has been a member of the Animal Advisory Commission, a city board that advises the City Council on animal issues since 2010. (I'm on the commission, too.) He's also been a longtime volunteer for and sponsor of the annual Easter Pooch Parade.
"We've always wanted to change the perspective of how people treat animals," Watts says. "When we signed our lease for downtown in 2006, people told us we were either smart or stupid. Why would you do a business like this in downtown? But we had success for more than 10 years. We hope we'll continue to work with the downtown community."