COVINGTON, Ga. — The Newton County Industrial Development Authority is seeking to issue up to $56.5 million in bond financing for a company to build an upscale apartment complex planned as part of the Covington Town Center project.
Bond proceeds will be used to help finance a company’s construction of a 350-unit multi-family complex that will join three hotels as the first projects in the planned multi-use development in northeast Covington, said Authority executive director Dave Bernd.
It also could spark further development within the overall project, he said.
“We’re confident it will start the momentum to drive commercial development in Covington Town Center,” Bernd said.
A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 5 at 9:30 a.m. in Newton County Superior Court to validate the bonds for construction on 24 acres of the 160-acre project.
Sale of the bonds will allow Elevation Development Group to develop the project — after which the Authority will buy the complex and lease it to a limited liability company affiliated with Elevation called EDG-CTC.
Even though a public entity is issuing the bonds for the Town Center project, the court filing stipulates the Authority will repay the bonds using funds from the developer and not from public funds.
The Authority would take over the property — in a manner similar to a bank foreclosure — if the developer does not honor its financial commitment, said attorney Frank Turner Jr.
South Carolina-based developer The Foxfield Co. has been working since 2016 to attract a Publix supermarket, movie theater, retail shops, multi-family development, offices and hotels to Covington Town Center.
The project is on the north side of Alcovy Road between City Pond Road and Hwy. 142, near I-20.
Covington officials said earlier this year the city has invested more than $1 million in infrastructure for the development.
The Authority plans to issue the taxable revenue bonds to generate funds “in order to promote and expand the public good and welfare and industry and trade within Newton County,” according to a notice filed with the Superior Court.
Government entities often issue taxable revenue bonds — in which investors’ interest income is taxed — to encourage economic development and help a private company develop or lease a project for which it may have difficulty finding private financing, according to Investopedia.com.
They also may issue non-taxable bonds to finance projects that serve a public need — like school or government buildings.
Bernd said Elevation was close to securing private financing of the project before the funding was essentially withdrawn earlier this year due to the uncertain impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“(COVID-19) put a damper on everything,” Bernd said. “This will get Elevation over the hump.”
He said monthly rents for the multi-family complex are expected to begin at $900 for a studio apartment and go up to about $3,000 for a three-bedroom.
The complex is expected to be attractive to everyone from milennials to those in jobs at nearby industries like General Mills and the new Cinelease-Three Rings Studios, he said.
Bernd said demand is high for such residential units. The Authority has found workers from as far away as South Carolina and central Georgia commute to Newton County for work at such companies as Takeda, he said.
He noted Newton County has little or no upscale, multi-family developments similar to other parts of metro Atlanta — with the Porterdale Mill Lofts the only comparable development.
“We don’t have a product that’s comparable,” he said.
Completion of the project also could convince other developers to consider Covington rather than other areas of the Southeast for similar residential and retail projects, Bernd said.