What to do with the Pavilion?

The Pavilion on the Detroit Lakes city beach has been around for over 100 years —

hosting summer dances on its big wooden dance floor as musical eras changed from big band to rock and roll to hip hop. Now the city-owned building is a popular venue for wedding dances on summer weekends.

Because of its history and all the happy summer memories associated with it, people from around the area love the Pavilion. They chipped in to raise money for a renovation in 2006 that restored the beautiful dance floor and renovated the building.

But because of poor drainage and building movement due to saturated soil and frost heaves, the Pavilion continues to be an ongoing maintenance problem for the city.

It's an old building, poorly sited, that was designed only for warm weather use: Water drains towards the building, there are no rain gutters or downspouts, and the moisture all collects to saturate the soil and cause frost heaves, which cause the building to shift and settle, creating leaks that can rot wooden window frames, decay concrete and create leaky roof areas that have to be patched.

A 2012 engineering study said it would cost around $120,000 to $170,000 (in 2012 dollars) to do the bare basics necessary to dig up and insulate the foundation from frost heaves and move the dirt around the site so that the ground slopes away from the building, as well as add rain gutters and other drainage improvements.

It wouldn't fix existing damage, or make improvements for year-round use or to meet modern building codes, but it could allow the Pavilion to continue operating on a seasonal basis as it always has.

The 2012 study provided four options, with the final one being spending $2.4 million to $2.7 million to replace the Pavilion with a new facility, using salvaged steel elements in an aesthetic way to honor the history of the original building.

"Though the building continues to stand, has withstood countless storms and remains functional in its current state, a closer look will show that it has begun to move and that the ongoing maintenance process will continue at a minimum on an annual basis," the BHH Partners architectural firm said in its 2012 report to the city. "These annual repairs will continue to grow in cost with each continuing year. In reviewing the assessment it also becomes apparent that in order to retrofit the facility for year round usage, significant upgrades would be required, some of which could impose additional complications to the existing structure that cannot be verified based on its age."

RDG Planning & Design's proposed West Lake Drive Plan recommends following this final option, tearing down the Pavilion and rebuilding it for year-round use, while "salvaging the original steel structural elements for reuse within a new structure in an aesthetic function."

The proposed plan identifies alternatives that increase the use of the site, while "honoring the the Pavilion's past role in the community."

It suggests possible improvements to the Pavilion area, including shifting the footprint of the new Pavilion building to open views to Lake Detroit for people traveling south on Washington Avenue.

Features of the new Pavilion could include: A four-season building with modern heating, cooling and ventilation. Existing trusses would be reused. The new pavilion could provide meeting rooms and classrooms, while keeping a main level large-event space. An upper story meeting place could have a balcony overlooking the lake. Public bathrooms would be included, as would limited administrative office space. Expanded parking could be part of the design, regardless of what decision is made on the Pavilion.

The plan offers the possibility of a lakefront plaza at the front entrance to the new pavilion, with seating area, shade and public art. A public drop-off area at the entrance would be part of the plan.


A family play area could also be located on the beachfront east of the Pavilion, which is "somewhat more private than the rest of the public beach," according to the RDG report, and sees more activity involving kids and young people. The area could have a children's splash pad, a children's labyrinth and interactive musical stations.

The city will hold a public hearing on the proposed West Lake Drive Plan at 5:30 p.m. on May 22.

If approved by the City Council, the West Lake Drive plan will become part of the city's updated Comprehensive Plan. A copy of the proposed plan is available at www.plandetroitlakes.com. The city will work to fulfill elements of the plan as opportunities and funding arise in the future.

Detroit Lakes residents, public officials and business people participated in a series of public input meetings, focus group gatherings and open houses held over the past year, spurred by the City Council decision to commission RDG Planning & Design to create a plan for development of the West Lake Drive corridor.

It's part of an overall update to the city's 2008 Business Corridor Plan, which resulted in the downtown streetscaping projects and was also the work of RDG.

The Detroit Lakes Development Authority approved the plan last month.

By Nathan Bowe 

Source, images, credits & more information: DLOnline