Echelon Constructors Transforming Retail Space into Swim Schools


Echelon Begins Building its Third Foss Swim School in Rock Hill, Mo.

            The ongoing effort to repurpose retail space has a new splash – swim schools. St. Louis-based Echelon Constructors is targeting an early 2023 completion for a new Foss Swim School at the Market at McKnight retail center in Rock Hill, Mo.   That, after the firm just completed renovating retail space for another Foss Swim School in the Zumbehl Commons retail center in St. Charles, Mo.  The Rock Hill project is the third built by Echelon for the Minnesota-based swim school operator and will give the proprietor four swim schools in the St. Louis area. 

            Foss offers weekly classes, swim camps, family swims and other events for children of all ages.  It lays out personalized sequence of classes that moves swimmers through a skilled progression that ultimately leads to competent swimming skills.

            “Foss Swim Schools are successful not only because of our time-tested programs, but also because we select strategic locations that accommodate families,” said Craig O’Halloran, CEO, Foss Swim School.  “Retail centers offer such convenience, but the renovation is much more complex than simply repurposing interior space to sell consumer goods.”

            The project just completed by Echelon at 1916 Zumbehl Rd. in Zumbehl Commons is emblematic of the overhaul required to repurpose retail space to create a swim school. The site once housed a 23,000-square-foot Ace Hardware store.  Echelon excavated approximately half of the interior space for the four-foot deep concrete pool. This work includedlowering the footings and columns and reinforcing the roof to support more robust HVAC systems which cool and provide humidity control.  It also includes all new plumbing for water filtration and a drainage system for the pool. 

            The interior space features a large changing area, restrooms and showers.  A glass vestibule leads to the lesson pool which includes an enclosed viewing area with separate environmental controls, allowing families to comfortably watch swim lessons. The view room area is adjoined by a space for registration, swim gear purchases, an office and a separate changing area for staff.

            The same features will be found in the new Rock Hill Foss Swim School at 9550 Manchester Road in the Market at McKnight retail center.  It will take shape in a 12,000-square-foot space that once housed a Club Fitness. Echelon also transformed retail space to build the Foss Swim School at the Olde Towne Plaza in Ballwin, Mo.

Foss entered the St. Louis market in 2018, when it acquired Little Fishes Swim School, which was founded in 2008. In addition to the locations in St. Charles and Rock Hill, St. Louis area Foss Swim Schools can also be found in Ballwin and O’Fallon, Mo.  The company was founded by Susan Foss and her husband, Jon Foss, in 1993.  It currently has 22 schools in Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, North Dakota and Wisconsin. Learn more at

Based in St. Louis, Echelon Constructors is a national contractor offering design/build, general contracting, construction management and comprehensive development partnerships. It serves commercial, light industrial, retail, cannabis, medical, senior living and renovation markets. Learn more at

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