Opening time near for Covington Esplanade

Things are coming along at Covington Esplanade, as new businesses in the commercial project just east of Wax Road on Southeast 272nd Street begin to open.

A sneak preview of the Red Robin restaurant that will open next Monday included a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Doing the snipping Wednesday were (from left) Jim Wene

A sneak preview of the Red Robin restaurant that will open next Monday included a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Doing the snipping Wednesday were (from left) Jim Wene

Things are coming along at Covington Esplanade, as new businesses in the commercial project just east of Wax Road on Southeast 272nd Street begin to open.

Red Robin celebrated with a sneak preview of the restaurant by city and business leaders on Wednesday morning, and Home Depot will host a grand-opening on June 25, with customers welcome beginning the next day.

This is Red Robin’s 400th eatery, which is a significant milestone according to company officials. It will officially open for business at 11 a.m. next Monday.

As part of its grand opening, the Covington location will raise money through Burgers With a Heart by donating 50 cents from every burger sold there from June 16-22. Proceeds will benefit the National Center for Missing And Exploited Children.

“I would like to thank Red Robin for their generous support of our mission,” said Robbie Callaway, co-founder of National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “It is important that we empower families to make safer decisions for their children, and communication and education are vital tools in that effort. With Red Robin’s support, we are able to reach many more families across the country with our messages of child safety.”

Red Robin was founded in Seattle in the 1960s and has expanded rapidly in recent years across the country. Eric Houseman, president, said the company is “thrilled” to be opening “our newest restaurant in Covington and our 400th restaurant in North America.”

The Red Robin in Covington covers 5,164 square feet, will seat 194 guests and have dozens of employees.

A handful of other tenants are preparing to settle into Covington Esplanade, which has been developed by Ashton Capital Corp. They include Verizon Wireless, which has staked its claim on one of the store spaces on Southeast 272nd Street.

According to the city of Covington’s Community Development Department, in addition to Home Depot, Red Robin and Verizon Wireless, permit applications have been submitted by Cutter’s Point, Tight Cuts and Mizu Japanese.

Bank of America has also been working to develop one of the buildings on the site into a new branch.

Of the seven buildings on the site, four can house anywhere from one business to as many as eight. It just depends on what a tenant’s needs may be for their venture.

Covington Esplanade was almost the home of Covington Christian Fellowship. Pastor Kevin Holland said there were plans to do a multi-use plaza with a church and retail. But in April 2005, church officials had gotten an estimate that it would cost $3 million to $5 million to take the property to the next level of development. It had already undergone site improvements, and Holland explained there’d been some significant investment by then.

And at that point, church leaders had decided they could do everything they wanted to do on the 11 or so acres of property it already uses on Wax Road.

So, the church approached top executives at Ashton, and the deal was done relatively quickly.

Home Depot officials said their new store will bring more than 100 jobs to the community, approximately $350,000 in sales tax revenue to the city each year, and will get be involved in charitable work and donations.

The store will host a dedication ceremony June 25 with elected officials and business leaders prior to the official opening. There will be prize giveaways, light refreshments and vendor demonstrations throughout the evening. The store will also present $2,000 to a non-profit organization, which hasn’t been identified but “serves the community,” a Home Depot spokeswoman said.

The store will open to the general public at 6 p.m. on June 26. At about 130,000 square feet, it will feature Home Depot’s latest floor plan, including kitchen and bath showrooms and an expanded lighting department only found in newer stores, a special home decor section, color solutions center, installation services, professional contractor desk, tool rental and a large outdoor garden center.

Home Depot has a combined 2,260 retail stores and 300,000 employees in every state of the U.S. plus Puerto Rico, Canada, Mexico, China, U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

There are six additional buildings planned for the new shopping center, ranging from 7,000 square feet to 17,000. Each building might have two or three tenants – for example, a restaurant and shop or two.

The project broke ground last August. It is viewed by Covington officials as a significant addition to the city’s downtown core.

Staff writer Kris Hill can be reached at (425) 432-1209 (extension 5054) and

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