A hardworking crew piled into a downtown Los Angeles apartments building and prepared for an extravagant “Picnic in the Park” themed birthday party. Life sized trees, twinkling lights, park benches and furniture were spread over the entire area of Metro 417’s polished lobby, creating the ambiance for a truly magical evening. But who were the guests, and more importantly, who was the guest of honor, at this over the top soirée? These party goers certainly weren’t the typical L.A. crowd; a swarm of forty dogs and their owners showed up with gifts in hand, ready to celebrate the birth of their building mascot, a West Highland Terrier named Metro.
There are few apartment buildings in Los Angeles that allow dogs to move in with tenants. There are even fewer that keep a barking mascot in the rental office. And there are only two apartment complexes in the city that combine cutting edge design and a love for all things dog into one building.
Met Lofts and Metro 417 are strikingly different buildings when it comes to design, history, and atmosphere, but they are in one way the same: they adore dogs. Met Lofts is an ultra mod building build from the ground op, while Metro 417 is the restored 1925 Subway Terminal office building, elegantly appointed and chock full of history and old world charm. But when the buildings, both the brainchildren of Forest City Development, opened earlier this year, marketing executives had an ambitious idea in mind that would tie the two projects together seamlessly: embrace dogs not as pets but as residents and become dog friendly in every way possible. “We had already decided that we were going to accept dogs, but the demand was such that there really wasn’t an option.” says Candace Steiner, marketing specialist for Forest City Development. “Clearly, the community was telling us what was important to them.”
To further Forest City Development’s idea, both buildings quickly obtained their own pet mascots. Lili, a German Shepherd mix, shares the rental office and an apartment with Met Lofts property manager Nathan Leible while the aptly named Metro roams freely in Metro 417 with his owner, property manager Richard Pasquale. The two mascots, according to Leible, quickly became popular with the Los Angeles crowds. It’s a glass lobby, so you can see Lili in the outside looking in… when people see her, they have to come in and see what’s going on,” he says.
The building themselves have garnered much attention as well. Met Loft’s public art project, titled “Electroland”, is constructed of interactive square tiles built into the sidewalk outside the building as passersbys step on the tiles, their movements and weights are mimicked electronically on the building façade. This unique idea has become a popular tourist attraction as well as earned worldwide acclaim, according to Christine Rombouts, public relations consultant for Forest City Development. The inside of the new lofts are just as inventive and interactive, with a “mid-century modern and minimalist feel,” according to Rombouts.
Metro 417, conversely, kept its 1925 Italian inspired exterior intact, and granted residents historical architectural appointments within the apartments, designers used marble from the former public restrooms for countertops in the bathroom and kitchens as well as old office doors.
Metro and Lili may not be able to appreciate the unique touches each building possesses, but they do enjoy greeting residents and prospective buyers, according to their owners Leible and Pasquale. “Metro’s basically been here since day one,” says Pasquale. “He often sits at the front desk at the lobby.” And between the birthday bash recently held for Metro, and a monthly Met Lofts newsletter column “penned” by none other than Lili, both buildings’ residents have plenty of interaction with these famous pets.
Metro and Lili aren’t working too hard, they enjoy their duties as greeters and mascots for the two new buildings and are rewarded for their hard work, according to both property managers. “The joke with Lili is that she’s gone from rags to riches,” says Leible of the dog who came from the arms of a leasing agent without a pet friendly apartment for her to live in. “She now has a full time job, a trainer, a groomer, a full life… she’s an LA girl, a true LA story.”
– Brittany Jasnoff