Knapp Center Pays $5.2M for Hotel

BOARDMAN, Ohio – The Red Roof Inn building at 1051 Tiffany South in Boardman was sold April 15 for $5.2 million, less than one week after the hotel shut its doors and opened up an entirely new future for the building.

The Knapp Center for Childhood Development – an accredited Behavioral Health Center of Excellence that provides care to children with autism – will be moving into the 50,000-square-foot former hotel, says the center’s executive director, Dr. Julie Knapp.

“We plan to turn the Red Roof Inn into a state-of-the art autism center,” Knapp says. The project will lead to the creation of up to 100 jobs.

Records show that J2D2 Enterprises LLC, a real estate holding company in Mars, Pa., purchased the property from Boardman Hospitality LLC.

The entity, of which Knapp is 50% owner, also purchased a large parking lot across the street, she says.

The Knapp Center, currently at 950 Windham Court in Boardman, opened in 2011 as a diagnostic and treatment facility for children between the ages of 1 and 21 with autism spectrum disorder. The center employs 125, but the expansion will require new services such as speech and occupational therapy, Knapp says.

“We have a wait-list for our diagnostic program six or seven months long to get in for one assessment,” she says. “We plan to hire more psychologists to reduce that wait-list.”

Another “several hundred children” are on a wait-list for therapy services, she says, and the expansion will reduce their wait.

According to recent studies, one in 44 children is diagnosed with some form of autism, she added.

The project has been in the works for about 14 months. The hotel purchase proved attractive because many of the Knapp Center’s early learners require toilet training, Knapp says.

As it stands, the Knapp Center is pressed for space at its location, where it leases 13,000 square-feet. The Red Roof Inn has 117 bathrooms versus the 11 the center has now.

Expansion plans include nearly $1 million in renovations at the former hotel. These include the addition of gyms, classrooms and cafeteria space for clients, and converting guest rooms into therapy spaces for children. “We’ll have more interactive and learning spaces,” Knapp says.

Architects and contractors still need to be selected for the project.

Knapp expects to soon present drawings and renovation plans to Mahoning County and the township.

“We plan to put a lot of money into the building and renovate it to make it a state-of-the art autism center,” she says. “We are hoping that our grand reopening will be in early fall.”

Pictured: The building is near hotels that stand to gain occupancy with Red Roof closing.