New development plans in Covington to bring unique urban experience to south King County

As trends show more people in Washington moving out of metropolitan areas to the suburbs, major developments are happening for those smaller communities. A new mixed-use property is in the works for south King County that is sure to be one of a kind for the area.

An old gravel and asphalt pit stretching more than 200 acres has been in Covington since the 1970s. The City of Covington is envisioning the space as a future hotspot to live, work and play.

Oakpointe Communities, a Bellevue-based development company, is partnering with the city to create a new lifestyle center called LakePointe Urban Village. Centered around a 20-acre manmade lake—the development will include 1,500 new residential units for townhomes and apartments. Plus, there will be plenty of space for business, retail and entertainment.

“We want to create a dense, compact place where there is recreation opportunities on the lake, trails, so people that live here don’t have to go somewhere else to do those kinds of things,” said Brian Ross, CEO of Oakpointe Communities.

Ross said Covington is the best place to bring something so vibrant to southeast King County.

“It’s really a unique opportunity to take this last large piece inside of the urban growth boundary, and what could this be? What should this be, given the access that already exists here in Covington, Maple Valley, east of Kent and really create something unique,” said Ross.

On Tuesday the city broke ground for its Covington Connector project, which will reconstruct more than two miles of existing roads surrounding the urban village site to help traffic flow. According to Oakpointe Communities’ website, the Covington Connector “will start at the intersection of state Route 516 and SE 272nd St. and run along 204th Ave. SE, connecting to the state Route 18 and SE 256th St. interchange. Planned improvements include a signalized intersection at SE 272nd St. and 204th Ave. SE, new turn and bike lanes, landscape planter strips, sidewalks, storm drainage improvements and two new roundabouts at state Route 18 and SE 256th St.”

“It should improve the flow of traffic around the community. [LakePointe] will bring more [traffic], but it will be fairly isolated around these main thoroughfares that we’re developing,” said Regan Bolli, City of Covington’s city manager.

Bolli explained public transit will be improved so residents and visitors can have more access to transportation. He also mentioned the development will diversify the city’s housing stock.

“Right now, we’re mostly single family homes and this is an urban village type setting. So, it would bring in condos, townhomes, apartments which will be pretty nice in a nice walkable environment,” said Bolli.

Ross said his office is already getting daily phone calls and emails from builders, retailers, and future residents. Bolli said people have been showing high interest in LakePointe for a while.

“We are hearing from people that have moved into Covington in the last year or two that that’s why they moved here. I think their property values will increase but it also brings in amenities that they’re looking for,” said Bolli.

Amenities aren’t the only thing attracting people to the area. Heidi Hurst, a realtor with Windermere Adobe in Tacoma, said she has been studying trends on why people are moving out of metro areas and heading to suburbs, especially south.

“People just don’t want to be in traffic. They don’t want to be in that commute and they’re really trying to find a community. I think community is a big thing,” said Hurst.

Hurst said her team has had seven referrals in the last two months, with four to six clients actively looking or closing at home. Along with less traffic, she said buyers are looking for affordability.

“Especially from people who are renting in Seattle. They can come down here and buy a house for the same amount of money that they’re paying for rent and have twice as much square footage,” said Hurst.

Ross said once construction for the Covington Connector project is finished in approximately two years, work will begin on the urban village. Bolli said the development is more than just building community, it’s about building experience.

“This is a huge project that smaller cities like Covington don’t necessarily get to be a part of,” said Bolli. “I think the outcome is going to create a lifestyle in an urban village setting that is going to be a real crown jewel of south King County.”