COVINGTON — With a 350-unit apartment complex already planned for construction at Covington Town Center, which was originally slated to be an upscale shopping center at the corner of Alcovy Road and City Pond Road, the Covington City Council approved a text amendment at its Feb. 15 meeting that will allow The Foxfield Company to add 275 more townhouses and change their design standards.
When it was first approved in January 2017, Covington Town Center was initially touted as a commercial mixed-use complex that would include 78 acres for retail rental space — 264,000 square feet for office space, 770,470 square feet for retail and restaurants, 52,500 square feet for entertainment space such as a movie theater, 5.2 acres for two hotels, and 18.2 acres of green space. (To date, two hotel projects are currently under review, and they are nearing the sale of an anchor grocery store.)
But within six months, Harry Kitchens, president of The Foxfield Company, the South Carolina firm that is developing the property, stated that due to pressure from potential commercial clients wanting to see more population density in the area, they needed to build multi-family housing, or apartments, on a portion of the property. The corridor mixed use zoning and overlay district the council approved allows for multi-family housing.
After more than a year of securing commercial loans and equity investments, along with a waiver of $1.5 million from the city for water and sewer tap fees, permit costs and electrical infrastructure costs for the project, Elevation Development Group broke ground in December 2020 on The Cove apartment complex.
Less than two months later, Kitchens was back with a request for the council to amend its Covington Town Center overlay to allow 275 more residential units and to modify the city’s design standards for townhomes. Kitchens said the townhomes will give the development two different type of residences with two different price points.
“I think (this) is very much needed to support the jobs that you have brought to this community,” said Kitchens, “and we need to retain those people to live within Covington.”
Design standard changes requested with the amendment include:
♦ Minimum square footage will increase from 1,300 square feet to 1,500 square feet.
♦ Smaller setbacks than current standards.
♦ Only one entrance/exit door, rather than a front and a rear door as required in city ordinances.
♦ Deletion of the 200-square-foot private yards required by the city.
♦ Slab on grade townhomes will be allowed, rather than a step up from the ground required by the city.
♦ Front entry garages, rather than rear entry garages required in city ordinances♦ .
The changes will apply only to Covington Town Center and not to other townhome developments in the city.
Covington planning staff recommended approval of the text amendment with the note that the development will be adding more residential units “in a predominantly manufacturing area, which can have conflicts from noise, traffic, and manufacturing outputs... Steps should be taken to offset any potential negative impacts of adjacent uses through the use of enhanced, natural vegetative screens and prohibitions on truck traffic cutting through the project.”
Following a public hearing where no one spoke against the text amendment, the council approved the change by a vote of 5-1, with Fleeta Baggett casting the dissenting vote.