The life of the old Phoenix Trotting Park in the West Valley is coming to an end. Owners have pulled permits to demolish the building by the end of 2017.
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Phoenix Trotting Park is on the market for $16.5 million.
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What do you think the West Phoenix property should become?
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Phoenix Trotting Park in West Valley set for demolition
Phoenix Trotting Park is on the market
Phoenix Trotting Park dormant for 50 years
The Phoenix Trotting Park — the massive and long-abandoned horse-racing track along Interstate 10 and Loop 303 in Goodyear — will be demolished by the end of the year.
Removal of asbestos in the four-story building is underway, and demolition of the 100,000-square-foot building is expected to be completed by December, according to permits pulled with the Maricopa County Air Quality Department.
The building, which has been largely vacant for more than 50 years, sits along two of the Phoenix-area’s busiest freeways, an intersection destined for commercial and industrial growth.
But not everyone is happy to see the landmark torn down.
Trevor Freeman, a Phoenix resident who has documented the history of the Phoenix Trotting Park on his website, phoenixtrottingpark.com, said the structure has value to the Valley community.
“Even though it hasn’t been used in a very long time, there’s a lot of people that have a lot of memories, like when you’re coming from California and drive by it and it means you’re home,” Freeman said.
Few details about reason for demolition
The 194-acre property where the building stands is owned by Citrus Commerce Centre LLC, which is owned by the Roles family. The site was listed for sale for $16.5 million in December 2015 and went into escrow in August 2016, but the deal was unsuccessful.
Chaz Smith, senior vice president of Colliers International, which is representing the Roles family in the sale, said the property is “not actively being marketed” but that it will be for sale.
Smith declined to comment further, citing the family’s request not to discuss plans for the property.
An attorney with the Roles family also declined to comment when reached by The Republic.
When the Roles family purchased the property from Grand Canyon University for $2 million in 1995, they indicated interest in repurposing the iconic grandstand structure, according to a Republic article from 1996, but those visions never came to fruition.
What’s next for the property?
Goodyear officials hope the land will be repurposed to bring increased commerce to the area.
After the asbestos is removed and county inspectors verify the structure is clean, the owners can begin demolition, said Bob Huhn, a spokesman with the Maricopa County Air Quality Department.
Two other structures, a maintenance building and jockey building on the south end of the dirt lot, are also scheduled for demolition.
Goodyear spokeswoman Amy Bolton said the city has no plans on file for the future of this property, but the city’s general plan supports development of the property as business and commerce.
She said the city is aware of the preparations underway for demolition, and the city also approved demolition and electrical power work permits through mid-November.
“The city is coordinating with the contractors on access, life safety, and similar public safety items,” Bolton said. “We look forward to continuing to work with the contractors and property owners so the schedule can be met.”
‘Beautifully built’ but unsuccessful landmark
James Dunnigan, an East Coast horse-racing enthusiast who also owned a track in New York, built the Phoenix Trotting Park for $10 million.
The track, with 1,500 seats in the glass-enclosed grandstand, opened on Jan. 11, 1965, surrounded for miles by small farming communities and open desert.
It operated for two seasons before it was abandoned in 1966, because the projected crowds of bettors never came and seasonal flooding sometimes closed the two-lane road to the track.
Sharon Girulat, a Goodyear resident who has advocated to preserve and repurpose the building since 2013, said the property went into escrow again in January, but that again failed.
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She laments the imminent demolition, since the structure is “solid as a fort.”
She said the building could’ve been repurposed as a performing arts campus, with indoor practice halls and a performance hall, and outdoor spaces for concerts.
She also had researched repurposing the structure to showcase Cirque du Soleil-style shows with horses. This, Girulat said, could’ve been an economic driver to Goodyear.
“It works because that physical structure is iconic, it’s so unique, so beautifully built,” she said. “It’s magnificent.”
With demolition looming, Freeman wishes the owners were more transparent about their motives to tear down the four-story building.
“It would be nice if they would say what’s the reasoning, what’s the purpose. … Something to give some closure,” Freeman said.
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