Investors Eye $40M Apartment Project in Warren

WARREN, Ohio – More than 100 market-rate apartments could be available in downtown Warren in 2026 if plans outlined Sept. 21 materialize.

The $40 million project would involve partial demolition and renovation of the former Warren YMCA building at 210 High St. NW.

Christopher Smythe, president and CEO of Smythe Property Advisors in Cleveland and manager of Valley Properties Investment, offered an anticipated groundbreaking at the end of 2024. Representatives of Valley Properties Investment and Trumbull Family Fitness, which operates in the former YMCA building, outlined the project during a press event.

Smythe said Valley properties had entered into an agreement with Trumbull Family Fitness to acquire the building. “We’re very excited about this opportunity,” he said.

Richard Thompson, president of the Trumbull Family Fitness board of directors, recalled bringing Tom Chema, principal and founder of Cleveland’s Gateway Group and another Valley Properties principal, to Warren eight years ago to see about assisting with the renovation of the fitness center.

Transforming the former Warren YMCA building into apartments would require $40 million in financing and tax credits.

“He said, ‘I think there’s a project here,’” Thompson recalled Chema saying. “He said it could take some time. He just didn’t tell me how much time.”

According to the plans, which Smythe acknowledged were subject to change, the developer would renovate the original building, which was constructed in 1928.

Trumbull Family Fitness would continue to operate on the building’s first floor, while the remaining space would be redeveloped into 26 apartments. The fitness center pool also would be renovated. The 1960s addition would be demolished, and a new building would be built that would offer 84 apartment units.

The mix of available units would include studio, one- and two-bedroom units and even a few penthouses. 

“We think it’ll be transformative,” Smythe said.

The future of the property has been a longtime concern, and the potential project represents a big step, Mayor Doug Franklin said.

“When you do an undertaking of this magnitude, there’s obviously a lot of proposals, developers and investors who take a look. You have to stay at it until you land the right one,” Franklin said. “I think we’ve got the right one.”

Smythe cited Ultium Cells in Lordstown and other projects he and his partners are working on as generating potential tenants for the apartments. Smythe Property Advisors, which recently signed the first tenant for its 999 Pine Ave. building, bought the old General Electric building on West Market Street last year and is in a joint venture with the owner of the former military storage depot downtown. 

Smythe is optimistic about prospects for the former RG Steel property, which was donated to the Western Reserve Port Authority.

The partners plan to seek about $8 million in state and federal historic tax credits to help fund the Trumbull Family Fitness project, he said. If the request for tax credits is denied, the project would move forward but possibly not according to preservation guidelines.

“There’s an opportunistic play here one way or another,” Smythe said.

Pictured at top: Christopher Smythe and Mayor Doug Franklin look over project renderings.