For Covington, “Growing Toward Greatness” is more than just a catchy motto. It’s a reality that is reflected in the business and residential development that is transforming this southeast King County community.
“We feel like the development that is happening and the kind of smart growth that we’re undergoing in Covington will really create this crown jewel of South King County where people want to live, where they’re going to come and shop, and be part of events. So we’re really excited about that and see that as our future,” said Regan Bolli, Covington’s city manager.
The city has come a long way since its incorporation in 1997. Today, Covington has a population of more than 21,000, and a retail trade area that serves a population of roughly 150,000.
Home to many big-box retailers — including Costco, Home Depot, Kohl’s, and Walmart — shopping is a draw to the area. In fact, visitors from more than four ZIP codes frequent Covington to shop at some of the area’s most popular retail outlets and dine in the downtown core, according to the City. The area also is home to several medical and health facilities, including the MultiCare Covington Medical Center, and Valley Medical Center.
“We definitely are a retail and medical hub. That is what we’re known for, as far as commercial. We have a lot of retail, and we have a lot more coming in. In the next 10 years, we could potentially double the amount of retail that we currently have,” Bolli said. “Our trade area is about 150,000 to 160,000 people. We believe with the developments that we’re working on now, and that are in the pipeline, it’ll increase that exponentially because of the draw that some of our new developments will have.”
One of the more notable projects, still in the early planning stages, is the Town Center, which is envisioned to be the heart and core of downtown.
“The Town Center will be a block, about 8 acres, that will have streets that wrap around it, and we’ll have some buildings, like a community center and city hall, flanking it. In the middle will be a large public plaza for large gatherings and festivals, and then will flow across the street (Wax Road) to a 7- or 8-acre passive-use park that we have,” Bolli said.
Helping to make the Town Center a reality and providing needed additional revenue streams for the City is a separate project currently underway. Enter LakePointe Urban Village, a new residential and retail community and mixed-use development center.
“The starting of our development at Town Center really hinges on the development at LakePointe,” Bolli said.
Centered around a 20-acre lake, LakePointe consists of 214 acres of lakefront property and eventually will offer 1,500 new homes and approximately 850,000 square feet of retail, hospitality, and office space.
Real estate and community-development company Oakpointe Communities announced in October that it broke ground on the Covington Connector. Kicking off the first phase of construction on the Covington Connector, which will comprise more than 2 miles of existing road improvement and new road extensions, is the first step toward breaking ground on LakePointe itself.
Phase one of the Covington Connector project is expected to take approximately one year and will focus on the 204th Avenue Southeast portion, with the signalized intersection completed near the end of 2021, according to Oakpointe Communities. Phase two will include the Southeast 256th Street roundabouts at State Route 18, and phase three will be dedicated to the LakePointe Boulevard portion.
“It’s an honor to partner with Oakpointe Communities and the state of Washington to finally get the Covington Connector moving forward,” said Covington Mayor Jeff Wagner in a statement announcing the groundbreaking. “It’s been a long time coming, but we’ve finally arrived at the beginning of a new chapter with the future of the LakePointe development and Covington ‘Growing Toward Greatness’ together.”
Recreation also is important to Covington’s residents, as evidenced by the multiphase development of Covington Community Park.
“We built a beautiful, over $8 million, expansion to Covington Community Park that’s really quite exceptional. So we have an amphitheater there where we hold concerts and outdoor movies,” Bolli said. Construction of phase one, which included a soccer field and trail system, wrapped up in 2013. Phase two, which includes an amphitheater, tennis court, parking, pavilion, and playground, was completed in September 2018. Phase three improvements are not yet funded or scheduled but are slated to include additional sports fields and courts, a water feature, and education facilities.
The park also is home to Covington’s annual Sausage and CiderFest. Held each August, the event is one in which cider lovers can sample dozens of hard ciders from around the Northwest, and nosh on sausage and other mouth-watering foods. The award-winning event also features live music and lawn games.
“Covington is kind of looked at as a family-oriented city that is welcoming. It is a place where they can come and get their shopping done, and find some recreation and athletics,” Bolli said.