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New Publix opening, Residence Inn already open in Covington Town Center

COVINGTON, GA. — After about seven years of development Covington Town Center has begun to come to life with the recent opening of a hotel and restaurant and the opening next week of its anchor retailer.

Residence Inn by Marriott hotel, Panda Express restaurant and Batteries Plus recently opened, while Publix supermarket is set for a Wednesday morning opening.

Publix Supermarket No. 1811 is set to open Wednesday, Jan. 11, at 7 a.m. in a 48,387-square-foot space within the retail area's 63,000-square-foot first phase on Town Center Drive 

It will be the second Publix operating in Newton County and joins stores in McDonough and Statesboro as the newest Georgia locations of the Florida-based supermarket chain.

Harry Kitchen of South Carolina-based master developer The Foxfield Co. said his company “is happy to welcome Publix Supermarket to our project.”

“They are the anchor that will attract shoppers from throughout the region,” Kitchen said. 

“Our objective in planning the 180-acre mixed use center was to identify the ‘best in class’ of each type of tenant,” he said. “We certainly met our goal in working with (developer Sembler Co.) to bring Publix to Covington Town Center.”

Publix operates 200 stores in Georgia and a distribution center in Gwinnett County. Residence Inn opened Monday, Jan. 2, on Town Center Boulevard.

The new hotel includes 123 suite-styled rooms with full kitchens, an outdoor swimming pool and grill area, a putting green and more.

General Manager Randy Money said, “We look forward to developing long-term relationships with the many businesses in the area.

“(We) are excited to welcome guests from all over the world who wish to explore Covington’s parks, natural scenery and movie production world,” Money said.

Panda Express, a fast-food Chinese eatery, opened recently on Alcovy Road as the first restaurant in the development.

Panda Express
The Panda Express is one of several components of the Covington Town Center that's now operational.

In addition to Publix, the 14,400 square feet of small shop space in the retail area "will offer a complementary mix of services, restaurants, and retail designed to meet the needs of the city of Covington and Newton County’s growing residential and employee population" such as SportsClips, a news release stated. 

Other businesses nearing operation or under development on other parts of the site include Heartland Dental clinic, and Huey Magoo’s, Arby’s and Zaxby’s restaurants, among others.

The Foxfield Co. has been planning and developing the 180-acre mixed-use project for more than five years, since mid-2017. 

At buildout, the Town Center area around I-20 and Alcovy Road will see more than 31,000 vehicle trips per day to Covington Town Center, Kitchen said.

A 350-unit apartment complex, The Cove at Covington Town Center, will operate on 26 acres. Zoning changes approved by Covington City Council allowed the Town Center's residential space to have up to 625 units. 

More than four miles of sidewalks are slated to be available to access shopping and other amenities, he said.

Foxfield moved just under 1 million yards of dirt, including 160,000 yards of rock, in completing the grading for the Covington Town Center site, Kitchen said.

Kitchen estimated about 1,550 new jobs will be created amid its final cost of $300 million to complete the Covington Town Center project.

He had originally planned more office space in the area but added more residential uses as demand subsided in the midst of the pandemic.

The city of Covington, meanwhile, spent more than $1 million on such infrastructure as gas mains and lighting for the project by early 2020. Covington City Council also voted in early 2020 to waive $1 million in permitting costs and water and sewer tap fees along with $456,000 electric infrastructure costs to spur construction of the complex. 

The complex also spawned additional nearby development unrelated to Covington Town Center, including a 395-unit apartment complex on City Pond Road. Developer Emory Equity LLC is the developer and said the 39-acre complex would connect via roadways, sidewalks and trails to Town Center.