Richards to run new hotel with USO inside

Reggie Richards, former executive director of Columbus South Inc., will become general manager for Victory Drive's Suburban Extended Stay Hotel. The $9 million hotel — slated to open in June — will also serve as home to a new USO.

"I'm very excited about it," Richards said. "I just see a great opportunity, not only for myself but because this is a $9 million facility and there's nothing like it that's been on Victory Drive ... I'm proud to be a part of it."

Sam Friedman — chairman of Atlanta-based AFCO Lodges LLC that is investing in the hotel — said he was excited to have Richards on board.

"Reggie brings with her great enthusiasm, along with a wealth of knowledge and experience concerning the south Columbus community, the Fort Benning community and of her hometown, Columbus, Ga.," he said in a statement.

The United Service Organizations — a nonprofit group that provides morale and recreation-type services to soldiers and their families — will be located within the hotel and open its doors this summer, too. Richards will be working closely with that organization.

Richards will begin her position as Suburban's general manager March 1 — about a month after she announced her resignation from Columbus South. She had been executive director for 1 1/2 years.

After her resignation, she admitted frustrations with some perceptions of Columbus South's role.

"For me, it was an imaging issue," she said in an interview last week. "Not for the eyesores in south Columbus, but a lot of people that could give us money saw that organization as a concerned citizens group or task force, and they just couldn't wrap their arms around us. We're beating our heads against the wall for donations. We'd get down to the wire for monies and then someone would throw in a donation again. It's just hard to live like that.

"I would have done it for nothing, and that's the truth. But I couldn't. I love this revitalization effort; I'm passionate about it. But I also have to make a living."