Chesterton Tribune



State Park Pavilion rehab begins as part of restaurant deal

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Demo underway: Demolition on the interior of the Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park (IDSP) began a week ago, as crews start the process of opening up the ground floor, under the restaurant development plan submitted by Pavilion Partners LLC. Right now the structure’s concrete block walls, erected in the Seventies, are being removed. IDSP Property Manager Brandt Baughman told the Chesterton Tribune that no natural areas at the beach will be impacted either by the restaurant or the 30,000-square foot conference and banquet center being built to the east of the Pavilion. (Tribune photo by Kevin Nevers)



The gutting of the interior of the Pavilion at Indiana Dunes State Park (IDSP) has begun, as part of the remodeling which will see the establishment of a restaurant in the Pavilion itself and the construction of 30,000-square foot conference center just to the east of it, the result of a private-public partnership sought by the Indiana Department of Natural Resources for some time.

Although the DNR awarded the concession for the restaurant and conference center in spring of 2013--to Pavilion Partners LLC--“it’s taken this long to get the historic-preservation clearances,” IDSP Property Manager Brandt Baughman told the Chesterton Tribune.

“Demolition on the interior of the building” began a week ago, on Thursday, Baughman said. “We’re removing the non-original concrete walls and opening the building back up. The structure itself is historic but the interior has been remodeled so many times that it’s not. The concrete block walls inside were put up in the Seventies.”

When completed, the Pavilion will feature casual dining and a snack bar on the ground floor, with an open layout, in addition to the life-guard station there; and fine dining on the second floor with rooftop dining as well an option, Baughman said.

To the east of the Pavilion, on existing asphalt and concrete, an elevated conference center will be built as well. Like the Pavilion, the center will have an open-plan ground floor. “You’ll still be able to see the lake from the parking lot,” Baughman said.

The Pavilion and conference center will not be structurally connected, Baughman added, although he believes that a covered walkway is envisioned which would link the second and third floors of the center to the Pavilion.

There will be a total loss of six parking spaces, Baughman said. The targeted completion date for the conference center: 2016.

Meanwhile, to the west of the Pavilion a new public restroom facility will be built. It will be a distinct improvement, Baughman said, with showers and family changing area and the same number of lavatory stalls as the current restroom. There will be no loss of parking spaces on this side of the Pavilion at all.

On Memorial Day this year, the first phase of the project will open: a “very limited function snack bar” on the Pavilion’s ground floor, Baughman added.

Baughman did say that he understands the concern of some people about the nature of the private-public partnership. He emphasized, though, that the snack bar at the Pavilion “has been a privately run concession for decades, so we’re not reinventing the wheel but expanding and improving what we’ve had for years.”

Pavilion Partners LLC

Deb Butterfield, spokesperson for Pavilion Partners, released this statement to the Tribune this morning. “Pavilion Partners LLC is an investment group that has assembled a team of expert talent to renovate the Indiana Dunes Park Pavilion and additional conference/banquet center through a public/private partnership with the State of Indiana. Specifically, the team is experienced in historic building renovation, restaurant, banquet center, and event management, and has had a significant presence in the food, beverage, and tourism industry in Northwest Indiana.”

“The team’s vision for the project is to showcase and market Indiana’s most impressive destination, in an effort to create awareness and excitement consistent with the history of the Dunes, the park, and the Pavilion,” the statement added.

Although the design of the conference center isn’t yet complete and the plans are still “fluid,” Butterfield did tell the Tribune that each of its three floors will be 10,000 square feet. “It’s a little hard for people to visualize until the renderings are ready,” which should be in another 30 to 45 days.

The interior and rooftop restaurants, on the other hand, are expected to be completed sometime during the 2015 season, she said.

“The idea is to enhance the experience for people going to the beach, not impede access to it,” Butterfield said. “The Pavilion is in real need of a facelift and this is a great opportunity.”


Posted 2/27/2015




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