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New nursing home, 100 jobs opening in Covington
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A $22 million nursing home facility and more than 100 jobs could be headed toward Covington as the city council approved to rezone an area on Dearing Street.

Kippy Clarke of B&B Southside Holdings Co. and Robert Bullard, an agent with Bullard Land Planning, came before the council Monday night requesting the 7.31 acre parcel on Hwy. 142 be changed from Neighborhood Residential-2, allowing single family homes, to Corridor Mixed use in order to have the three-building complex, reaching as tall as four stories.

The original ordinance allowed for single-family residential home on the property, where the newly zoned ordinance is a mixed use district intended primarily for mixed-use development and related uses at a higher density. According to the city of Covington’s code “the district provides a location for residences retail, goods and services and offices to satisfy the common and frequent needs of the city’s businesses and residents with design standards and design parameters to encourage a pedestrian-friendly traditional urban form, oriented to pedestrians, which will limit the conflicts between vehicles and pedestrians.”

Much discussion ensued whether or not the zoning should be changed, mostly due to the fact that if the project did not go forward, what would become of the former residential area.

However, Clarke, the leader of the project, emphasized to the council that the nursing home project – Royal Hall – would be a luxury-style resort. It would have three buildings, a four-story structure for 55-and-older living, a three-story building for senior care and a three-story building for Alzheimer’s patients.

According to a proposal submitted by Bullard, “the developers are planning a facility that serves the residents of the resort like complex with first class dining and amenities, but also offers service such as ball room entertainment, a move theatre, exercise facilities and salon/spas that will meet as many of their basic needs and desires as possible.”

Clarke said the project is expected to cost $22 million, will have 254 units, a 24-hour café, movie theater for 100 people on site, indoor exercise pool, outdoor Olympic size pool, tennis court and access to Ashton Hills Golf Course. He also told the council it would take an estimated 115 full-time employees to run the facility.

“It’s called Royal Hall Senior Living Center for a reason,” Clarke said. “When you drive by it, you’ll know it’s first class all the way.”

Mayor Ronnie Johnston asked if the zoning ordinance could be included with a revert clause to go back to the original ordinance if the nursing facility isn’t built, and City Attorney Ed Crudup agreed. A motion was then going to be brought up by the Councilwoman Janet Goodman to take two weeks to look more into the ordinance wording. However, the motion was accidentally overlooked, and Councilman Chris Smith made a motion to pass the rezoning request as is, before it was seconded by Keith Dalton.

The confusion brought on a five minute recess. After the recess, Smith remade his motion to pass the rezoning request from Neighborhood Residential-2 to Corridor Mixed Use on the 7.31 acres located on Hwy. 142, and Dalton remade his motion for a second.

The motion passed unanimously 6-0.

“It looks like a great thing for the city of Covington to me.” said the owner of the property, Sam Hay. “I think it will be a great thing for us , and of course at 83 years old, I’m probably going to be one of the first one’s in there.”