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History of Warren Riverside property

DEAR EDITOR:

Last month I sought authorization from City Council to apply for a $2.5 million cleanup grant from the state of Ohio. The purpose is for asbestos removal and eventual demolition of a major public safety hazard and eyesore on the city’s northwest side — Riverside Square often referred to as former St. Joseph Riverside Hospital.

This letter is to thank those involved in getting us to finally being able to address this significant challenge and to provide historical context on how we got here.

This property, on 13 acres in a residential neighborhood, originally was developed in 1934 with construction of the first building. Major additions from 1942 through 1994 grew to the present size of over 271,000 square feet of floor space, plus 3,000 square feet of utility space. In 1995, Humility of Mary (HM Health Services) began moving operations to Warren General Hospital, now called St. Joseph Warren Hospital, at its present location.

It should be clear, and I wish to emphasize, Humility of Mary Health Services or Mercy Health St. Joseph Warren Hospital did not walk away and abandon the facility. They were the last truly responsible owners of the property.

The property was sold in 1997 to Riverside Square Inc. with concepts of converting the building to professional office space. It then was sold to PKAM LLC in 2003, which filed for bankruptcy. The property was transferred to Fairview Commercial Lending, and subsequently to Euro-American Finance Network in 2010 and left abandoned. The city officially condemned the building in 2012, which, ironically, was my first year as mayor. It became and remains a priority of my office.

Again, it was not Mercy Health (St. Joseph Warren Hospital) that abandoned the property, leading to its current condition.

Having experienced corporations that filed bankruptcy and walked away from often dangerous toxic eyesores, I am thankful when St. Joseph Mercy Health decided to move its operations in 1995, they chose to remain in our city to serve our citizens and the Greater Warren Area.

Mercy Health / St. Joseph Warren Hospital remains a top employer and valued corporate partner, whom I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with on several public health initiatives, including establishment of Eds Meds corridor in the city, the COVID-19 Pandemic Collaborative and many other initiatives regarding public health. In fact, they have a presence next to the former hospital with its urgent care facility.

I believe it’s important to know and understand the true history of this property and acknowledge the facts.

Through observance and with help of many public and private partners, we can finally see light at the end of this tunnel, for which I am truly grateful.

MAYOR WILLIAM D. FRANKLIN

Warren

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