Real Estate

Developer Converting Niles YMCA Into Banquet Center

NILES, Ohio — Renovation work has begun to convert the former YMCA building at 995 Youngstown-Warren Road to a banquet center.

In April 2016, Divinity Hospitality LLC of Warren purchased the some 22,000-square-foot building for $200,000 from Believers Christian Fellowship, according to documents from the office of the Trumbull County Auditor. The sale includes just over 10 acres of land.

Divinity started planning its banquet center project this past summer, “but before that we had to do a lot of cleanup in there,” said Gina Makwana, who co-owns Divinity with her husband, Haresh. They also own and operate the Econo Lodge Inn & Suites at 4258 Youngstown Road SE in Warren.

Makwana estimates about six months of work is needed to get the building ready to go, she said. Workers have converted the entrance to three and had to demolish the swimming pool. They’re currently redoing the walls and laying down new flooring, she said. She was unsure of what the final cost of the renovation will be.

“We’re taking it one step at a time because it’s a big building, big project,” Makwana said.

Once complete, divinity will manage the banquet center, which Makwana said will likely have an 800-person capacity. After renovations are complete, “we’ll think of the name,” she said.

The building housed the Eastwood Branch of the former Warren-Trumbull YMCA until October 2008 because of required repairs being cost-prohibitive. The Warren-Trumbull YMCA lost its charter in November 2014.

In September 2009, Believers Christian Fellowship purchased the building and property for $391,000, according to auditor records. The fellowship is the parent of Believers Church, which was founded by its director and senior pastor, the Rev. Joe Cameneti, and his wife, Gina, in 1983 and has campuses in Warren and Boardman. Pastor Joe is well known for his locally aired weekly television show, BCTV.

In October 2009, The Vindicator reported that the fellowship planned to use a $1.8 million donation from a member of the church to finance a renovation of the property to convert it into a family-life center.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.