Economic Development

Marvin Outlines Plans for Winery in Warren

WARREN, Ohio – Establishing a restaurant and winery in the former Warren Scope senior center represents a “perfect catalyst” in the process of expanding downtown activity, Mayor Doug Franklin said.

Representatives of the Western Reserve Port Authority and other community leaders joined Franklin and developer Mark Marvin for a deed-signing ceremony Thursday to mark the transfer of the building at 220 W. Market St., where the event took place, to Marvin’s Downtown Development Group LLC.

Converting the 10,000-square-foot building, which overlooks the Mahoning River as it passes through downtown, will take eight to 10 months, Marvin said. The project, including acquisition of the building, will cost between $300,000 and $400,000, he estimated.

Marvin is working with a “small team” that approached him about a year ago looking for a property to “create a destination in downtown Warren,” he said. Not having a property at the time appropriate for the project, he spoke with Mike Keys, the city’s community development director.

“He said, ‘I have an idea, but it’s going to take some effort,” the developer recalled. As soon as they walked through the building, “this was the place,” he remarked.

Advancing the project required finding a new home for the Scope center, since relocated to the YWCA of Warren.

The Scope center was among eight properties to be redeveloped through an agreement the city entered with the port authority last year.

John Moliterno, executive director of the port authority, praised the city administration and City Council as “innovative and creative” for allowing the port authority to play a role in the project. “They’re forward thinking. They want to see things happen in downtown Warren and the city of Warren in general,” he said.

Upgrades to the property will replace the current chain link fencing along the river bank with a more Romanesque style, install a cobblestone patio and renovate the inside to include a half-moon, sit-down bar, a terrace-style drop ceiling with grape leaves throughout, and a double-faced fireplace serving two terrace rooms, Marvin said. Seating capacity, including a banquet room, should be in excess of 300 patrons.

“This is going to be a destination for years to come,” he said.

Earlier this week, Marvin outlined plans to rehabilitate the long-vacant Robins Theatre, which he expects to reopen in two years for theatrical and cinematic productions, as well as musical and comedy events.

“Both projects compliment the downtown,” Franklin said. “[Courthouse] Square is doing really well with a nice mix of retail, entertainment and offices, and it is only natural that we start looking to expand our development of the central business district to the east and the west of the Square.”

The restaurant and winery project is “the perfect catalyst we need to begin our downtown development of the peninsula,” he added.

Following Thursday’s deed signing, the letter of intent with the restaurant-winery operator will be finalized, Marvin said, He expects that to take place and the operator revealed in the next month, he said. Initially the restaurant will offer a limited menu such as cheese plates, paninis and sandwiches.

Now that the Scope center project is completed, the port authority is working on projects for other properties covered under the agreement with the city, Moliterno said.

“We expect the next project to happen much more quickly than this one,” he said, with an announcement taking place within the next 60 to 90 days. “This frees us up to be able to do what we need to do to complete the next one. All of these will be good for the city of Warren, and help create additional activity within Trumbull County.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.