Chesterton Tribune



Pavilion Partners pressed to reveal costs and show detailed plans

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Dunes Action is calling on Pavilion Partners LLC to release more information about its plans to build a banquet center and renovate the Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park.

In a statement released today, Dunes Action said that Pavilion Partners needs to make public an itemized accounting of its expenses to date in order “to substantiate recent statements about the amount already spent on the project.”

The LLC also needs to list the “definite uses for the Pavilion” as well as to reveal the most current set of architectural plans, Dunes Action said.

“Investment amounts, proposed uses for the Pavilion, and reported construction costs have all changed repeatedly,” said Desi Robertson, co-founder of Dunes Action. “The Department of Natural Resources signed the final lease eight months ago, after more than two years of negotiation with Pavilion Partners, yet there are still no plans for the public to view. This story shifts more than sand on the beach. The public has been waiting a long time for major facts about this project.”

In its original proposal, Pavilion Partners put its preliminary estimated project costs at $6,439,000 and described its financing as a conventional bank loan based on a 20-year fixed rate with 6-percent interest. “Yet now we’re reading in the newspaper that Pavilion Partners needs an alcohol license in order to finance the renovation they committed to doing when they signed the lease,” said Norman Hellmers, co-chair of the Dunes Action Alcohol Committee. “That’s preposterous.”

And, as reported by the Chesterton Tribune, the LLC’s spokesperson, Deb Butterfield, told the Porter County Convention, Recreation, and Visitor Commission at its July 16 meeting that $2.7 million would be spent on the Pavilion and $4 million on a banquet center. That sum exceeds the projected cost in the original proposal, but does not include the cost of the completed comfort center, Dunes Actions said, which Pavilion Partners has said cost $600,000 to build.

“We’ve seen the reported amount of Pavilion Partners’ investment bounce up and down--now the amount they’ve spent keeps changing too,” Robertson said. “That total was reported as $2 million, $1 million, and $1.5 million. If there’s a chance that the company will walk off the job, and the taxpayers are on the hook, don’t they deserve to know exactly how much money has been spent?

“All we have to show for this project right now is a comfort center plagued with problems, an empty Pavilion, and an elevator shaft made of cinder blocks,” Robertson added.

Meanwhile, Dunes Action would also like Pavilion Partners to reveal more about its planned uses for the Pavilion. Following the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission’s decision to deny the LLC an alcohol permit, Pavilion Partners “seems to have stopped referring to plans that allow for alcohol on all three floors of the building” and begun issuing statements that “almost exclusively speak about the second floor restaurant,” the statement said. The LLC’s list “included a craft beer pub, restaurants with bars on the second floor and rooftop, as well as an ice cream stand, general store, yoga studio, spa, and dance studio. Art and photography studios have also been mentioned. The majority of these ideas were not in their proposal.”

“This project has suffered from lack of transparency from the beginning,” Robertson said. “Pavilion Partners contends we should have known the details of their proposal back in 2012, when in fact, it hadn’t been released to the public until this year. The 2011 prospectus stated alcohol was illegal in the park yet somehow we ended up with three levels of liquor service. It seems the public constantly has to swim out of the undertow.”


Posted 11/5/2015




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