Group Shares $40M Plan for Trumbull Family Fitness Property

WARREN, Ohio – More than 100 market-rate apartments could be available in downtown Warren in 2026 if plans outlined Thursday morning come to fruition.

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 for a proposed $40 million renovation/demolition project at the former Warren YMCA building.

Representatives of Valley Properties Investment and Trumbull Family Fitness, which operate in the former YMCA building, outlined the project during a news conference.

Smythe announced 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 property.

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

The former Warren YMCA building in Warren.

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 and the building’s pool 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 couple of penthouses.  

“We think it’ll be transformative,” Smythe said. If all goes as anticipated, apartments would be available for rental in 2026.

The future of the property has been a longtime concern, and Thursday’s announcement represents a big step, Mayor Doug Franklin said.

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin speaks during Thursday’s news conference.

“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 upon the right one,” Franklin said. “So I think we’ve got the right one.”

Smythe pointed to Ultium Cells and other Voltage Valley developments in Lordstown, as well as other projects he and his partners are working on, as generating potential tenants for the apartments. The group, which recently signed the first tenant for the 999 Pine Ave. building, also bought the former General Electric Building on West Market Street last year and is in a joint venture with the owner of the former military storage depot near downtown.  

Additionally, he was optimistic about prospects for the former RG Steel property, which was donated to the Western Reserve Port Authority and is marketing the site for development.

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

Should something happen with Trumbull Family Fitness, the building would provide “wonderful law offices” because of the proximity to the courts.

“It could be really interesting. We think there’s an opportunistic play here one way or another,” Smythe said.

Pictured at top: Christopher Smythe, president and CEO of Smythe Property Advisors.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.