COVINGTON, Ga. — The city council cleared the way for more housing of all kinds in Covington with changes to zoning in a high-profile multi-use project and a planned residential subdivision on the south side Monday night.
The council voted to rezone land on Jackson Highway for a new subdivision containing single-family homes and townhomes; and allowed more multi-family housing to be developed in the Covington Town Center project.
The Town Center is a 160-acre mixed-use development that has been in the works since 2016. It is located on Alcovy Road between City Pond Road and Ga. Highway 142.
It is set to include apartments, hotels, a retail area that includes a supermarket, and office space.
Council members voted 5-1 to amend the city’s zoning overlay area for the project to allow for a 275-unit increase in the amount of residential space — from the current 350 units to 625 units.
Developer Harry Kitchens said he believed the demand for residential units from workers at area industries would outpace the need for new office space.
Many workers live outside the Newton County area and have found a lack of housing in Covington. The number of workers likely will increase, he said.
“When we started this, the (Three Ring) Studios and Facebook were not contemplated,” Kitchens said.
The addition of more residential units also has increased the planned developer’s enthusiasm for the project, which could include a chain supermarket, Kitchens said.
In response to one council member’s concern about the addition of more rental units, Kitchen said leases would be for at least one year.
“This is not a B&B,” Kitchens said. “This is a $60 million master planned development.”
Developers recently hosted a groundbreaking for the project’s first apartment complex called The Cove at Covington Town Center — a 26-acre, $57 million project that will provide 350 “Class A” apartments starting in 2022.
Two hotels also are nearing start of construction and developers are negotiating with a grocery store chain for the anchor position in the retail part of the project, said city planning director Marc Beechuk.
Kitchens said he planned to reduce the more than 100,000 square feet of office space planned for the area.
The COVID-19 pandemic showed companies the benefits of their employees working from home rather than in commercial spaces, Kitchens said.
In other action, Covington City Council members voted to approve the rezoning of 21 acres at 9155 Jackson Highway for construction of townhomes and single-family homes in the planned Reserve at Jackson subdivision.
Attorney Phil Johnson — representing the Malcolm estate that owns the land — said the new plan was a modification of an older one seeking multi-family development on the site bordered by McCullough Drive on the north and Magnolia Heights Circle on the south.
He said developer KCG Development of Marietta decided to submit a new plan with 111 single-family homes each “with a small footprint” and 34 townhomes.
Council members asked about plans to make the project safer for residents as they walk inside the subdivision or on major roads. Johnson said plans call for sidewalks allowing foot access to nearby retailers at the intersection of Jackson Highway and Covington Bypass.
Traffic was a concern for city planning commissioners when they voted to recommend that the council deny the project, Beechuk said.
However, a traffic study released after the planning commission meeting showed the project would not significantly increase traffic in the area, officials said.
Council members voted 5-1 for the rezoning with the stipulation that any rentals would be required to have at least one-year leases.