COVINGTON, Ga. — More than one year after committing to being part of the major mixed-use development, construction of the first of three national, flagship hotels are officially underway at the Covington Town Center.
City and county officials gathered Tuesday morning for a ceremonial groundbreaking event to celebrate the beginning of construction of a Residence Inn by Marriott. Construction initially began in March, but a ceremony was not able to be held due to a spike in COVID-19 cases.
The Residence Inn is one of three national chain hotels, including a Courtyard by Marriott and a Staybridge Suites, planned for the Town Center, totaling a combined nearly $100 million investment. Officials expect construction to begin soon for the Courtyard hotel.
Harry E. Kitchen Jr., who is president of The Foxfield Company, which is the master developer of the Town Center, said the quality of hotels spoke to only a fraction of the entire project’s magnitude.
“This is a $300 million project in total,” Kitchen said during a recent phone interview with The Covington News. “This is an incredible project … I’ve been doing this for 32 years. This is the best and biggest we’ve ever done … It’s an extraordinary project.”
In addition to hotels, an apartment complex called The Cove at Covington Town Center will provide 350 “Class A” apartments across 26 acres. There are also plans for 625 townhomes for the residential portion of the project.
As announced in early March, a Publix supermarket will anchor the retail area of the 180-acre development located off Alcovy Road. Kitchen said site work had started in August, and he anticipated the store could open by next summer.
Kitchen also said restaurants including Huey Magoos, Dunkin’ and Panda Express, and an Aspen Dental office are also committed to being part of the project, with many more “big names” and “junior anchors” on the way. He mentioned some of those would include more restaurant and retail options, medical and business offices, and banks to be located on the outer parcels.
One of the more understated aspects of the project is the roughly 29 acres of the development Kitchen said would be dedicated to creating green space and preserving natural woodland.
“We have built around a ravine, so we’ve really done our best to incorporate it into the project and made it an amenity,” he said.
Kitchen also said there would be about five miles of walking trails and sidewalks.
Covington Town Center has been in development since 2016. After the project is completed, Kitchen has no doubt it would have tremendous impact on the area. He said more than 31,000 vehicle trips per day would be taken to Covington Town Center, based on a market study conducted by The Foxfield Company, and more than 1,500 jobs could be created.