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Covington Town Center moves forward after zoning approval

The City of Covington approved a zoning change and special zoning overlay district for the proposed Covington Town Center, a conceptual plan to bring a dining and shopping center location to the city, during Wednesday night’s meeting.

The council met Wednesday – rather than its typical Monday meeting time due to the New Year’s holiday – first in a work session, where it heard a presentation from the developers.

Harry Kitchen, president of The Foxfield Company, is leading the way to bringing more commercial business to Covington.

“The idea is a mixed use project that would have retail, hotels, office, restaurants and kind of a point of destination,” he said. “One of the issues is right now in our community, we lose 50 percent of the retail buying power to stores outside our community here in Covington, so we will have a point of destination that will have not only keep more dollars here in the community and create jobs, but we’ll have people from outside our community here coming to shop.”

Kitchen said the site needed to be large enough, instead of building another free-standing store like Walmart of Home Depot, to create a “point of destination.” He said the company looked at a lot of sites before landing on its current location.

Located on Alcovy Road and City Pond Road, the size and location of the site were thought to be perfect for the site.

“Once we’ve identified the different pieces of the development, whether it be hotel or office or retail or restaurant, we try to go out and very aggressively identify the best in class of those individual uses,” he said. “We don’t just put a sign out here ‘Call The Foxfield Company if you want some information.’ We’ll be very proactive in going out and identifying them.”

Councilman Chris Smith said his constituents are begging for retail and restaurants, and not necessarily office buildings. Kitchens informed the council that only a small percentage of the project is planned for office space, which could include medical office space.

“If you look at 700,000 feet of retail, versus 100,000 feet of office and 310 rooms of hotel, which is a two/two and a half acre hotel site, it’s not a lot,” Kitchens said.

Kitchens said his company has conducted a market study and come back with a plan of what it thinks the city needs.

Kitchens said he has, at minimum, a $12.5 million investment in the project through grading the land and adding the roadway infrastructure.

“We have a big financial commitment and we believe in it,” he said. “We believe in Covington.”

Formerly known as Project Phoenix because it grew out of the ashes of the earlier Project Kitchen Sink, the project had ceased operation nearly a year ago. The project was resurrected in August of 2016. 

The Foxfield Company is in its 30th year of developing properties such as this.

The council unanimously approved the rezoning of the property from heavy industrial (M-2) to corridor mixed use (CM) and the proposed zoning overlay district. The property is broken into three separate parcels, totaling 179.53 acres of land.

The zoning overlay district makes isolated requirements for the property that are not typically required in a corridor mixed use zone. The requirements can include signage height or style, landscaping or architectural design.

In other news, the council also approved the first reading to amend the definitions of an extended-stay motel/hotel and hotel/motel. In the new definition, both extended-stay motel/hotels and hotel/motels have a 45-day limit for stays. The ordinance amendments will have to go before the council for a second reading before their final approval.