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Former Capitol Hill Arts Center below Velocity Dance going back into motion with Tails of the City dog daycare

(Image: Tails of the City)

Mostly inactive since the final days of the Capitol Hill Arts Center more than a decade ago, the area beneath Velocity Dance Center’s 12th Ave building will be swirling back into motion with more energy than even the curl ups and tendus going on upstairs.

Tails of the City, a longtime Georgetown doggy daycare, is expanding with a second Seattle location in the basement of the 1600-block 12th Ave building — a huge space that will provide room for the business to add a highly demanded new service: dog boarding.

“This space used to host raves and parties. I toyed with idea of making an area so people can watch,” Karyn Johnson tells CHS. Sorry to report, Johnson said the doggy bar just wouldn’t work out. And, yes, that’s the second time you can be disappointed about that.


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Johnson’s big project to overhaul the giant 8,500-square-foot space includes plans for a small dog area and special space for senior dogs. There will be a grooming area. And dogs and their owners will get their own entrance and exit far from the dancers and diners above using the old 1917-built masonry building’s rampway. And there will be room for something new at Tails — space for dogs to spend the night.

“We’ll have somebody there 24×7, morning walks, lots of love, and dogs out and about,” plus separate spaces to sleep “in case they want their own space.”

Johnson’s expansion comes after she bought the now 17-year-old company a few years ago to add to her busy dog walking business. She said she found the old CHAC space had a lot of the features she needed at a price that worked out. The basement has gone mostly unused since the arts nonprofit shuttered in 2007. While other older buildings have turned toward utilizing lower levels for storage or office space — the Odd Fellows Building, for example, is starting construction on new subterranean office space — the Velocity building will have a much livelier underground. Meanwhile, upstairs, CHS reported on the dance nonprofit’s fundraising effort as it struggles to stay on Capitol Hill and Tails of the City’s other new upstairs neighbor, coming soon Korean bar and restaurant, Soju Anju.

The new business will also help fill the gap left by the exit of Downtown Dog Lounge after a 2017 fire left its E Olive Way at Denny building too damaged to return to.

Johnson said she was looking for an opportunity to expand specifically to Capitol Hill where fur babies are everywhere you turn.

“People treat their dogs like family,” she said. “Many choose to get a pet with their LGBTQ partner. It’s easier now — you can take them so many places.”

But you can’t take them everywhere. And busy lifestyles can mean it’s nice to have some help watching and playing with all those canine companions. The secrets to taking care of those dogs, in addition to knowing how to handle a pack of pups, is good ventilation and “constant cleaning,” Johnson said. She also gets lots of help from her ever-present two old Pugs, Chubs and Nugget.

Though she’ll need to be permitted for a change of use for the new business in the old CHAC space, Johnson is hopeful she might be open in time for the holidays. Besides the permitting, she still needs to redo the floors and deal with the health department. There will be an open house when the opening finally comes to give both her and her potential dog customers a chance to evaluate each other and sort out if the new Tails of the City is a good match.

The new Tails of the City Capitol Hill is planned to open before the end of the year at 1621 12th Ave. You can learn more at tailsofthecityseattle.com.


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