Staff Photo: Erin Evans. This renovated building, at the corner of Monticello and Reynolds streets, has 12,000 square feet of space and will be the new home of Troy University, which is currently housed in the former Cousins school on Geiger Street.
COVINGTON -- Troy University will soon make a move to downtown Covington.
The Covington City Council gave unanimous approval Monday to the college's request for a special-use permit so that it can move from its current location on Geiger Street to 1160 Monticello St., at its intersection of Reynolds Street. The building which is one block off the Square, is the former site of the Delaney Hotel and, more recently, Home Health Care.
According to the application presented to the Covington Planning Commission in June, there are no plans to make exterior changes to the structure and no certificate of appropriateness would be required.
At the same time, the council treated the move as a first reading of an ordinance change that would remove the requirement that colleges and universities must be located on a minimum of 3 acres. Despite removing the minimum 3-acre requirement, City Manager Steve Horton said under the revised ordinance applicants would still be required to apply for this allowable use and go through the Planning and Zoning Commission prior to approval by the City Council.
City Planning Director Randy Vinson said the location, which is zoned town center mix, is a good fit with the Covington Historic District.
"It has been shown that universities and colleges are a huge benefit to downtown areas," Vinson said.
Councilman Chris Smith asked if the Monticello Street location has sufficient parking for faculty, staff and students.
Bob Bertram, director of the Covington campus of Troy University, said that their classes meet at night and on the weekends; but even if everyone was there at the same time, there would be more than enough parking.
A second reading on the ordinance change must be held before it is adopted.
After the vote, Bertram addressed the council. He said Troy University has been offering classes in Covington for eight years and has provided graduate-level programs, primarily in the area of education.
"We have grown continuously, and we love Covington," Bertram said.
Now, he said, Troy University offers four-year degrees in business and psychology and graduate degrees in education and criminal justice. Students may take classes on site or online.
He added that Troy is the only four-year institution in Newton County. The university has an agreement with Georgia Perimeter College that students who complete their degrees with GPC can continue their studies at Troy University, Bertram said.