At Blue, dogs are king.

The upscale south Minneapolis apartment building allows pets in the mod copper- covered lobby, the elevators and even the Tiki bar.

But where the canines really rule is in their private outdoor dog park on the alley side of the complex. Dog owners step off an elevator and into an enclosed courtyard where their bulldogs and Great Danes can romp off-leash across the artificial green turf.

"It's really great in the winter when it's cold and the sidewalks are icy and you don't want to go on a walk," said Christina Ridolfi, owner of Rumble the rat terrier.

Ridolfi chose Blue for its location and pets-allowed policy when she moved from Milwaukee. "The puppy park is also a great place to mingle with neighbors."

The park for pooches is just one of many Blue amenities -- it also has a pool, gym and yoga studio -- but it's what sold Kim Naumann, who has lived there since it opened in 2008.

"Zima's safety was the most important to us," she said about her 15-year-old deaf cocker spaniel. "A fenced-in area for her was a big deal."

Renters and buyers at Twin Cities condo and apartment buildings are taking pet perks into consideration in growing numbers. Many of them are from out of state or the suburbs and want maintenance-free city living yet don't want to give up their beloved Scooter or Mimi. Or they're young couples who want pets before they start a family.

The Twin Cities increasingly has become a market with multi-unit housing that caters to dogs rather than banning them, said local real estate agents. Pet owners will find enclosed dog runs, convenient dog washing stations and handy pet waste receptacles at rental or owner-occupied complexes in downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

It's a shift from years ago when buildings typically had a "no pet" policy or only allowed cats. Today most newer luxury high rises or converted warehouse buildings in urban areas have an "eight-leg pet policy," said Susan Lindstrom, an Edina Realty agent who specializes in downtown Minneapolis condos. Most allow up to two pets, but may have weight or breed restrictions.

"More pet owners are moving to the city, and they're looking for a workout area for their pets and for them," she said.

Agents say more of their clients are requesting units where pets are allowed -- and one with a dog park or enclosed run is a bonus.

"Clients tell me, 'I want two bedrooms, two bathrooms, underground parking -- and my dog has to come with,' " said Joe Grunnet, president of Downtown Resource Group and a real estate agent who sells condos at Skyscape and Herschel Lofts in Minneapolis.

Skyscape, a 250-unit luxury condo high-rise at 9th Street and Portland Avenue S., offers a long enclosed dog run. The North Loop off-leash dog park is right behind Herschel Lofts, a 47-unit warehouse conversion.

"It's a must for newer buildings to be pet-friendly, and that concept is here to stay," Grunnet said.

In fact, three new off-leash dog parks, including Gateway Park and Loring Park, have opened in the past two years, reflecting the increase in dog owners moving to downtown Minneapolis.

The 27-story Grant Park at 5th Avenue S. and Grant Street, one of the first downtown condo high-rises that catered to pets, has recently added another enclosed "pet relief" space.

"We put in a second pet area so people didn't have to wait," said Mari Johnson, head of the Grant Park pet committee.

Pet-friendly buildings are a big plus in a competitive housing market because they appeal to a wider pool of buyers as well as enhance the value of the property, said real estate agents and owners.

"We read in national trade publications on the apartment industry that young professional urban dwellers have a higher percentage of pets," said Brent Rogers, vice president of local Greco Properties, which manages Blue. "But it was more of a feeling that adding a dog park would work." Blue has 242 apartments, which are 95 percent occupied. Pet owners make up about 65 percent of its residents.

Like Blue, other newer Twin Cities apartment complexes are responding to the demand. Village Green's six rental properties, including Lake Calhoun City Apartments, allow pets and offer cleanup stations on the grounds. Next week the company is installing an off-leash fenced dog run at Village Park of Minnetonka.

"Residents were asking for it, and we had room for one," said Scott Ferguson, senior area director for Village Green, a luxury apartment management company based in Michigan.

Pet-centric multi-unit housing, especially in urban areas, appears to be a win-win for owners, their pets and the real estate market.

"Zima can go everywhere I go," said Naumann. "Except the swimming pool."

Lynn Underwood • 612-673-7619