“I guarantee you, this is the coolest thing I’m going to do all week,” said Faulconer, adding, “This has exceeded expectations don’t you think?”
The pool officially opens to the public on July 4. It had been nearly 2 1/2-years since Faulconer emceed the demolition of the original Plunge pool on Jan. 30, 2017. The brand-new building features a glass retractable-roof system promoting natural air circulation preventing some of the deterioration issues that previously plagued the old building from moisture and saltwater.
“This is an iconic gathering place and has always been the centerpiece of Belmont Park since 1925,” said Faulconer. “Today, we mark the beginning of its new future.”
Faulconer praised the public-private partnership that went into re-creating the “cherished landmark.” He gave kudos to Pacifica Enterprises, Belmont Park’s operator, for turning the amusement park into a “world-class destination.”
“Mission Beach has been waiting for this day for a very long time,” concluded Faulconer.
Chris Wahl of Pacifica Enterprises praised the revitalized pool’s “contemporary design,” noting it hasn’t always been so modern. “It used to be all stucco and you used to have to dodge falling pieces, there used to be a net to catch it,” he said.
Wahl noted two memorial plaques are outside the facility. One honors late educator Maruta Gardner, killed by an intoxicated driver.
“We miss her every day,” said Wahl.
Steve Thomas, general manager of Belmont Park, noted, “It isn’t often you come across an opportunity like this to rebuild a historical building in the City of San Diego, or work with a team that shares the same passion and vision.”
Added Thomas: “Tomorrow, our country turns 243. Belmont Park is 94. Our gift to the City is this Plunge building that has new life and will bring the joys of swimming for years to come.”
Thomas also cited Mission Beach Town Council for its support of the Plunge’s revitalization, characterizing the group as “pillars of the community.”
Founder/president Scott Lutwak of the renovated Plunge’s new operator, Fit Athletic Club, pointed out the restoration project has been seven years in the making.
“There’s now rooftop yoga and cutting-edge equipment with endless ocean views and ocean breezes,” he said. “That makes this the greatest fitness scene anywhere.”
Belmont Park and its iconic Plunge pool’s history date back to the 1920s and wealthy sugar magnate and early San Diego pioneer John D. Spreckels who built Belmont Park.
Originally known as The Natatorium, the Plunge’s 60-foot by 175-foot swimming pool was then the largest salt-water pool in the world holding 400,000 gallons of water.
In 1940, the salt water of the Plunge began to damage its filtration system and fresh water was brought in making it the largest indoor heated pool in Southern California at 12,000 square feet.