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Covington OKs permit for apartment complex plan
Council approval greenlights mixed-use development project at former Walmart site
Apartment concept
Pictured is the conceptual master plan for a 315-unit apartment complex to be built on a 19.6-acre tract neighboring the Martin’s Crossing shopping center in Covington. - photo by Special to The News

COVINGTON, Ga. — Plans to redevelop the home of a former Walmart, located next to Ingles in The Shoppes at Martin’s Crossing at the corner of Hwy. 278 and Covington Bypass Road, are a “go.”

Members of the Covington City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night, Sept. 7, to approve a special-use permit to construct an “upscale” apartment complex on a 19.6-acre tract neighboring the shopping center.

Plans for the complex meet all the city’s zoning requirements, but due to the project’s size, a special-use permit was needed.

“Our code splits projects under five acres versus over five acres into two different levels of use,” Planning and Zoning Manager Marc Beechuk previously told The Covington News. “My understanding on this is to allow smaller developments by right, but to have an extra level of attention, or front end planning, on larger developments.”

Development company Crescent Communities currently owns the property and intends to build an apartment complex with 315 units. Former land owner and Newton County resident Sam Hay III previously shared the company’s plans for the property in late August during a public town hall event.

“We feel that this is a great opportunity for this property and really for the community, too,” Hay said. “We all know that our employment growth [and] our industrial growth has exceeded our housing growth, really, for a good many years now. And there are a good many folks who work in our community who really haven’t been able to find suitable housing.”

Hay said his family had owned the property for about 50 years, but last year they decided to pursue advice about the property and how it could be best developed. Not long after, that’s when Crescent Communities came into play.

According to the “conceptual master plan,” Crescent Communities intends to build six three-story buildings across the 19.6 acres, constructed to an “appropriate scale” based on the surrounding area. There will be options for one-bedroom rentals starting at $1,200 per month, two-bedroom rentals starting between $1,800-$1,900 per month, and a limited offering of three-bedroom rentals starting at more than $2,000 per month.

Amenities include a pool and club house, and there are plans to build a trailhead for the Eastside trail.

Hay believed the project would transform the area into “a destination for our community, a trailhead for the Eastside trail, and, really, an eastern entrance and gateway to the community that we can all be proud of and all will enjoy.”

As for the remainder of the 40-acre tract, Hay has not disclosed specific plans for the redevelopment of the current shopping center area, but he remains “excited” for the potential.

“We have had a significant amount of interest in the shopping center just in the last year or so,” Hay said. “We have several plans for the center, but unfortunately we can’t disclose any of those specifics tonight. But suffice it to say, the combination of first-class market rent apartments, a trailhead and mixed-use activity, we think, are going to combine along with a revitalized shopping center to create a really nice gateway and destination for our community.”

Hay said he planned to invest proceeds of the 19.6-acre land sale to Crescent Communities back into the redevelopment of the shopping center and retain ownership of the shopping center “for the long haul.”

In other business, the council:

• Approved the first reading of an amendment to an ordinance pertaining to lodging tax. Proposed amendments would change definitions terms such as “hotel” and “marketplace facilitator,” among others, to better regulate rentals across the city and ensure all lodging providers are being properly taxed.

• Approved the bid for a bucket truck for the Telecommunications Department from TEREX in the amount of $109,034.

• Approved to enter an agreement with Friends of Covington Fireworks to contract out and provide the city at least a $50,000 show on July 4 at a $20,000 expense to the city.

• Approved a bid amount of $20,500 for an assessment of Conyers Street Gym to determine the condition of the property; in addition, a budget amendment and budget resolution was approved.

• Voted 5-0 (Councilwoman Fleeta Baggett abstained) to approve an RFP in the amount of $62,000 for engineering and design of a water line for the company Process Equipment and Controls. The city applied on behalf of the company, but the company alone will be obligated to pay for the services, not the city. 

• Approved a bid in the amount of $54,400 from Mason Tractor to purchase a mini excavator for the Water and Sewer Department.

• Approved a $1.96 million bid from Stewart Brothers Inc. for the 2021 Local Maintenance Improvement Grant project for the city’s asphalt resurfacing projects. A $168,986.32 grant from GDOT will fund a portion of the project. The remaining $1.79 million will be paid for with SPLOST funds.

• Approved a $499,000 bid from GWES for engineering work for the Downtown Square utility relocation and improvement project. Design prep is expected to take nine months; construction would take about six months. Work would be completed at night.

• Approved a bid in the amount of $24,500 to assist in updating the city’s Water and Sewer Standards and Specifications.

• Approved the acceptance of a GDOT contract for ARPA Act Funding associated with the Covington Municipal Airport in the amount of $32,000.

• Approved an order of 124 transformers in the amount of $385,724. Decision to order now was due to long lead times.

• Approved two amendments for the city’s sidewalk improvement project.

• Approved the creation of a position for Building Inspector I.

• Approved an easement agreement for a property on Washington Street that would allow access to build a connector trail from the Cricket Frog Trail to Central Park.