Iowa City 'dog community center' now looks to 2021

A rendering from Shive-Hattery Inc. architecture and engineering depicts a proposed dog community center. The facility a
A rendering from Shive-Hattery Inc. architecture and engineering depicts a proposed dog community center. The facility at 2513 N. Dodge St. in Iowa City would feature an on-leash walking track, off-leash activity area, a multipurpose area, colab workspace and a restaurant. (Rendering courtesy of Phil O’Brien)


In January, Phil O’Brien unveiled his concept for a dog community center in Iowa City.

O’Brien’s vision for the 33,000-square-foot facility at 2513 N. Dodge St. included a dog activity area, an on-leash track, a multipurpose area to host classes, speakers and other events and a space for people who need an area to work and want to bring their dog along. O’Brien, an owner and agent with Urban Acres Real Estate, also has plans to include a restaurant in the space.

O’Brien told The Gazette he hoped to have it open in late fall 2020.


O’Brien’s dog community center hasn’t broken ground yet, but he now has his eye on 2021.

“The goal is to open early to mid-2021,” said O’Brien, who hopes to still break ground later this year.

While he hasn’t broken ground on the facility yet, progress is being made. O’Brien, who is working with Shive-Hattery Inc. architecture, Meld Marketing and Axiom Consultants on the project, said he is about ready to reveal the name of the facility and launch the website next month.

The website will have answers to frequently asked questions and information on membership packages, he said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced O’Brien to fine-tune the dog community center concept to ensure people can safely use the facility. He has plans to have kiosks to sell dog leashes and toys and is taking his time to flesh out the restaurant portion of the facility.


“We really want to just take it one step at a time,” O’Brien said. “We want to be respectful of the current situation and make sure we do it right.”

O’Brien said his goal with the facility is not to compete with existing dog training and retail facilities. The center isn’t meant to be a boarding facility, either.

After a tumultuous year for everyone, O’Brien said he’s hopeful his facility can bring people together next year.

“I want to see something that maybe can be a little more optimistic, a little more positive for 2021 and bring the community together,” he said. “Four legged, two legged, the whole community.”

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