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
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,”
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.”
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.”