Covington: Town Center plan includes 1,000 new units

Covington is moving forward with plans for a new Town Center that will include new housing opportunities. A new study commissioned by the city says:

“The Town Center developments will add a significant amount (up to 1,000 new units) of housing to the city. Adding this critical component will contribute significantly to the goal of providing for mix of land use and places for people to live, work, and play that will ultimately improve the quality of the experience in the area.”

In Covington’s case, the development will be on land for which the City has a “right of first refusal,” rather than on land the City already owns our-right.

Covington’s plans include a pedestrian friendly, well-connected, and amenity-rich area centered around a “main street” concept. The City says the Town Center is intended to have a mix of uses to provide a complete and balanced urban experience capable of supporting a range of employment, and retail and entertainment activities, for city residents and the broader Southeast King County area.

The property that is the focus of Covington’s effort is currently occupied by Covington Elementary school (located south of Safeway) and is owned by the Kent School District. The School District will need to pass a bond measure to pay for a replacement school, which could be submitted to the voters as early as next year. Once that happens, the City expects to be in a position to move forward.

In the meantime, the City is aware that the effort will require the commitment of significant public resources needed for the basic infrastructure to accommodate the new development, especially regarding the need for upgraded transportation, parks, and other public infrastructure.

As part of the effort to address the infrastructure challenges, the City commissioned a study to assess the best path for moving forward, and found:

  • The land use designations in the Comprehensive Plan for the Town Center District are appropriate to accommodate the new Town Center
  • The Town Center District encompasses 39 parcels with mixed-use zone areas that will accommodate $500 million of new, direct investment in combined residential and commercial uses with a likely built-capacity of:
    • Up to 1,000 new housing units
    • Shops, eating and beverage establishments, and restaurants in 250,000 square feet of retail space, and
    • Businesses occupying up to 600,000 square feet of office space
  • The professional and technical businesses occupying those offices spaces could generate nearly $200 million in annual revenue. This amount of business spending could support approximately 2,000 jobs in the area. Full build-out of the retail space could attract nearly $60 million annually in consumer spending to the area while supporting nearly 500 jobs in retail and other personal and consumer services.
  • The infrastructure study identified 11 transportation projects and three parks projects that will be important for the success of the effort. The total cost of the identified projects is $94.4 million. Specifically:
    • Parks projects cost a total $20.5 million, and
    • The 11 transportation projects cost a total $73.9 million

The success of implementing the Town Center transportation and parks projects will depend largely on steps the City can take to raise, administer, and leverage revenue from local sources.