PHOENIX, Arizona, November 20. THE Phoenix City Council today approved a measure to remove a special permit that will allow a housing developer to demolish the storied Phoenix Swim Club pool and construct single-family homes on the 10-acre lot.
That means that the world-class 50-meter pool, which has a width of 25 yards for one half and 25 meters for the other half, will be emptied and paved over to make way for 35 homes. The additional 25-meter training pool and the grass track that are also part of the facility are also expected to be removed.
The land had been purchased by Charles Keating II in 1987 with the strict purpose of creating a state-of-the-art aquatic facility in Phoenix. After government regulators seized the Keating-owned American Continental Corporation and Lincoln Savings & Loan in 1989, the land went into receivership. Gary Hall Sr. established a foundation that acquired the property and later sold it to Athletes In Ministry (AIM). AIM declared bankruptcy in 2001 opening the door for Brophy College Preparatory to purchase the property in 2002. The school’s swim teams have used the pools for practice during the high school season, while Phoenix Swim Club trained there year-round. Other teams from around the world often trained at the facility. Earlier this year, Brophy agreed to sell the property to Ryland for $6.2 million, though bidding was re-opened recently for any interested buyers.
The City Council voted 8-0 to remove the permit. Six community members spoke in opposition of the proposal to remove the special permit, with all but one having ties to Phoenix Swim Club. An attorney for Brophy and a member of the school’s board of trustees spoke in favor of removing the permit.
“This is a legacy vote for you,” said Phoenix Swim Club Masters swimmer Lois Courtwright. “I think this is a great opportunity … to guide us through this process … and keep this pool for the City of Phoenix.”
Attorney Michael Curley, speaking on behalf of Brophy, pointed out that the City Council had never denied a property owner the right to remove a special-use permit from their land, a notion that was echoed by Mayor Greg Stanton.
“It would be unprecedented for us not to allow the property owner to take away this special permit,” Stanton said before the vote.
Brophy has allowed the two major users of the facility, Phoenix Swim Club and Grand Canyon University, to continue using the facility through the end of March, 2014. Phoenix Swim Club’s board of directors have not officially stated a plan for moving the age-group and Masters teams to a different location.
The Phoenix Swim club pool, the only 50-meter pool within city limits, has been a training ground for many great swimmers. Gary Hall Jr. prepped for the 1996 and 2000 Olympics there, as did Anthony Ervin and Klete Keller. Various Olympic medalists from around the world, including Kosuke Kitajima, Brent Hayden and Ryan Cochrane have stopped by for training trips. Roland Schoeman currently trains at the pool on his quest for a fifth Olympic appearance.
A previous version of this article did not fully detail the timeline of the sale of the property, and incorrectly stated that the sale of the land to Ryland was official.