Nearly everything in the retail core of Covington has been built in the last 10 years, and in fast-growing South King County‘s newest city, an “older home” was built in the 1960s or 1970s.
There’s no downtown, just a busy shopping area with City Hall sharing space in a modern building — with such tenants as a dental office and massage clinic — that is near a strip mall.
Quiet suburban cul-de-sacs right off the traffic roundabout near Costco and Fred Meyer, horse farms a few minutes up the road from Walmart, Kohl’s and Applebee’s and a background of evergreens and Mount Rainier behind the 272nd Avenue Southeast commercial district are oh-so-Covington.
“It a nice place to be, out of the rat race,” says local resident Kevin Holten, owner of a small, folksy garden-art store across the street from the huge Costco.
Affordable housing is the area’s big draw, with most homes in the $200,000 to mid-$300,000s price range, popular with young families and first-time homebuyers. Most of the homes are single-family houses, many with large yards. There also are some high-density neighborhoods
with houses where “you can stick your arm out the window and touch the
house next door,” as one longtime resident said. Retail expansion and the building of new homes have continued in Covington despite the economic downturn of recent years. “Convenience is really a draw,
the combination of so many services and a relatively easy commute to Seattle
and the Eastside.”
Like many residents, Constantine praises the local schools and convenience to outdoor activities and rural areas. New home projects include Coho Creek
near Kentwood High School that’s sold about half its 117 homes, priced from
$255,000 to the $290,000s, since opening late last year.
Most houses in Covington were built in the 1980s or later, mainly in developments, with some large-acreage and high-end properties scattered throughout town.
The median value of all single-family houses in Covington, not just those that recently sold, was $219,700 in April, according to Seattle-based Zillow. That’s down 10.1 percent year-over-year, but up 0.8 percent from March, the Zillow Home Value Index shows.
Houses recently listed for sale in Covington ranged from a small, three-bedroom for $125,000; a three-bedroom, 1,490-square-foot house with a partial view of Mount Rainier for $199,950; a two-level, four-bedroom with large landscaped yard for $230,000; a five-bedroom home on a large lot for $334,900; and a large house on an acre for $599,950. Vacant lots and tracts are also
available. Like most of South King County, the area has become more diverse in
recent years, with ethnic eateries in local strip malls offering teriyaki and
pho in addition to area’s fast-food restaurants. Formerly an unincorporated area of Kent, Covington takes its name from an 1880s surveyor who helped logging
companies develop a railroad line in the area.
Incorporated in 1997, Covington has its own police, parks department, mayor and city council; public schools are part of the Kent School District. The city is working on a pedestrian-oriented “Main Street” downtown with a public plaza, still in the planning and zoning stage. City amenities include parks and the popular Covington Aquatic Center indoor pool. Access to Covington is via Highway 167, accessible from Interstate 405, either through Kent on Southeast 272nd Street or via Highway 18. With the rapid growth in the area, many residents work in Southeast King County, along with those who commute to Seattle or the Eastside. Besides Metro Transit bus service,Kent Station provides commuter options including the Sounder trains to Seattle, Everett and Tacoma.
“This is a great place,”
says resident Troy Lightbody. “It’s small; everything’s so close, all the
stores, Lake Sawyer and Lake Meridian,” one of several locals who raves
about shopping convenience close to outdoor recreation. Erika Panzer, a resident and college student, praises Covington’s location “between Seattle and Tacoma, between the SuperMall and Southcenter, with good schools, short commutes to all kindsn of stores, restaurants and Green River Community College.” “I love it here,” Panzer says. “We’re in the middle of everywhere.”
By Madeline McKenzie Special to The Seattle Times