COVINGTON, Ga. – Covington will soon be home to a new hotel after the Covington City Council approved the rezoning request Monday night from Navin Shah, owner the Holiday Inn Express and Hampton Inn in Covington.
The new hotel, an extended-stay, will be the Home 2 Suites by Hilton, which Shah said is geared to the professionals who come to Covington to work for the week and need amenities, such as a kitchen.
“The difference between the Home 2 and Hampton Inn, is simply the Home 2 will have more of a kitchen there,” he said. “The kitchen is a full-=sized refrigerator, microwave and dishwasher.”
The four-story hotel will be placed adjacent to Shah’s other two hotels on Paras Drive, bordering the Chilis and Interstate 20.
“I want to thank you for coming before us this evening and thank you for the quality products you’ve already brought to Covington and your continued investment here,” Councilman Josh McKelvey said. “I’ve stayed in Home 2 when I was traveling for work some and I’m very familiar with the product, they’re very nice, they’re marketing themselves and targeting younger professionals and professionals that are traveling professionals like you said. I’m very excited that that product is coming to Covington and I wish you the best of success.”
Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston echoed McKelvey’s comments, thanking Shah for his commitment to Covington and its growth.
“I do want to make note publicly that the amount of investment you’ve made into our town is – I’m not even going to guess the number – but I know you’ve invested some large amounts a money in our town and I know when you initially did some of that there was a little concern about ‘Is that going to work or not?’ and I think with your continued investment in Covington, I think it is just a phenomenal sign that obviously it is working out pretty well and you believe there’s still a lot more growth to go,” he said.
Shah said he came to Covington after seeing success in Conyers.
“I decided to put a hotel in Covington and everyone thought – this is 2005 – I was going crazy,” he said. “Everyone thought ‘Why would you go in Covington? There’s absolutely nothing in Covington,’ and I bought a piece of land and the recession came,” he said. “Everybody decided not to do anything, including Cracker Barrell, which was supposed to go in front of me.
“I said, ‘If the Cracker Barrell is going to go away, I’m in big trouble,’ so I did the numbers one more time and said ‘You know what, maybe I know a little more than Cracker Barrell,’ so I said I was going to build the hotel.”
Shah said since he has built in Covington he has continued to see positive change in the market.
Councilwoman Susie Keck credited Shah’s forethought for the redevelopment of the Hazelbrand Road area.
“For all the naysayers, you see our future and our future is very bright,” she said. “You had a leap of faith and we appreciate it.”
The council voted unanimously three times to rezone all of Shah’s Paras Drive properties from Corridor Mixed Use to Heavy Industrial to allow for the extended-stay hotel, which is only allowed in the Heavy Industrial zoning.
Navin Shah writes a monthly business column for The Covington News. It can be found under the business tab at covnews.com.