Originally created 08/11/01

New Country Suites hotel sets Oct. 1 opening date



Those who watched Augusta's newest hotel inch its way into the downtown skyline during the past eight months can gaze upon the finished product Oct. 1.

That's when the 136-room Country Suites Augusta Riverwalk officially opens for business.

The $21 million project complements the adjacent Radisson Riverfront Hotel Augusta and city-owned convention center, which is undergoing a 38,000-square-foot expansion that is expected to be completed Sept. 15. The synergy is expected to bolster Augusta's convention business.

"We've brought several event planners down," said Radisson Manager Darryl Leech. "They're astounded at how wonderful the space is."

Combined, the two hotels along Reynolds Street will offer more than 370 rooms, making the riverfront development the city's largest hospitality and convention destination.

"The city needs a place that can hold bigger groups and bigger events," said Paul Simon, spokesman for Augusta Riverfront Limited Partnership, developer of the Country Suites.

The partnership was also responsible for developing the $50 million Radisson and nearby Augusta Riverfront Center office complex a decade earlier.

The partnership is headed by William S. Morris III, chairman and chief executive officer of Morris Communications Corp., parent company of The Augusta Chronicle.

The $3.25 million convention center addition, though technically a separate project, is being funded by the partnership as full payment for the remaining balance of a $7.25 million economic development loan obtained by the city from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Project developers envision the limited-service Country Suites appealing to convention-goers while the Radisson remains a favored destination for business travelers. All Country Suites rooms will have amenities such as in-room refrigerators and separate sitting rooms.

Room rates range from $295 a night for the presidential suite to $139 a night for a standard room with two queen-sized beds. The ground floor features an indoor pool and has access to the city-owned parking deck to the west.

The seventh floor of the hotel, which is accessible by its own elevator, will offer leasable office space to commercial tenants.

The project will create 45 new jobs. The facility will be managed by Margaret Carpenter, the current front office manager of the Radisson Riverfront.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486 or bized@augustachronicle.com.