After tabling a request from developer Kippy Clarke of B&B Southside Holdings Company to extend a Special Use Permit (SUP) for Royal Hall Senior Living facility at its May 16 meeting, the Covington City Council voted to extend the permit for an additional three months on Monday night.
Clarke appeared before the council to explain the problems that have prevented him from starting construction on the $22 million nursing home facility at 10500 Eagle Drive in Covington he presented to the city at the April 20, 2015 council meeting.
“At the time, we were assuming the project would cost $22 million dollars,” Clarke said. “We were going off old construction costs from 2008.”
Nothing the size of the proposed 254-unit facility had been built in the Metro Atlanta area since 2008, he said. However, cost estimates to build the facility as originally proposed had risen to $32 million dollars and he had needed to look for a joint venture investor. He would, he said, hold 51 percent of the investment.
In addition to reducing the number of units built to 218, including 88 assisted living memory care units, and finding an investor, Clarke said stone and brick would have to be used instead of the originally proposed black ribbon glass, which had risen to $7 million, almost double what had been originally projected.
He said the rising cost of construction would also effect who could afford the units, so he was trying to get costs down as close to the original $22 million dollar estimate as possible.
SUP granted last May
Last year, Clarke received a 12-month Special Use Permit to begin construction on a $22 million, 254 unit senior care residence. The permit was due to expire at the end of May. The engineer, Bobby Bullard of Bullard Land Planning, had appeared at the mid-May council meeting to request a 12-month extension on the permit.
The 7.31-acre parcel is on Highway 142 near Dearing Street, and is zoned Neighborhood Residential-2, single-family home, and the Special Use Permit was necessary for the developer to build a four-story, three building structure for 55-and-older living, a three-story building for senior care, and a three-story building for Alzheimer's patients.
Clarke, the leader of the project, had told the council last year that the nursing home project, Royal Hall, would be a luxury-style resort for 55-and-older living, with senior care and Alzheimer’s care buildings. The proposed 218 units would consist of 88 assisted living units, which, Clarke said, the government would help finance.
“I said I didn’t want to change what I’d come up with,” he said. “Everyone got frustrated. A [potential investor] from Valdosta said, ‘I’ll partner if you’ll consider looking at some of my plans.’ I told him to draw up the plans. He said he would if I’d pay for it.
“I’m still going to control 51 percent of the project,” he said.
When Council Member Kenneth Morgan, Post 1 West, asked how long it would take to get the drawings, Clarke said he thought it would be about eight weeks.
Council Member Hawnethia Williams, Post 2 West, asked why Clarke had been working on a 1,500 home housing development in Stanton Springs last year when Royal Hall “was something the city was expecting you to do. Didn’t you consider the cost per unit and whether the demographics were able to afford it.”
“They are two different projects,” said Clark, who added he had already been working with the Joint Development Authority and Baxalta when the proposal for Royal Hall was presented to the city. “We were waiting for the construction numbers [on Royal Hall] to come back.”
Clarke said Bull Realty of Atlanta had put the property up for sale as a joint venture concern, with Clarke retaining ownership over 51 percent of the project. “It’s so much bigger than existing assisted living, but I think that’s where we’re headed with baby boomers. I can’t do this myself.
“We’re already invested,” he said.
Mayor Ronnie Johnston told Clarke that when he had come before the council last year, it had sounded as if ground were going to be breaking in the near future. “In reality, what are we looking at? Is it a five year or two year plan, what?
“It’s an important corridor for us,” he said. “To me, the fairest thing, what I would feel comfortable with, is to give a three month extension and then we can look at the [revised] plan and see if it makes sense.”
The extension would be good until September 6. In that time, Clarke would be expected to bring back the revised plans and architectural renderings. If he doesn’t, the SUP would lapse, though Clarke could request for a new SUP, if he wanted.