Indiana Dunes State Park Pavilion Restoration
The historic Indiana Dunes State Park Pavilion was constructed in 1929-30. It is an iconic representation of the park’s early history and use. It once contained a fine-dining restaurant. Over the years, its functionality has changed, and the DNR has been unable to adequately fund interior restoration and maintenance. The facility’s aging restrooms do not meet the needs of visitors. A small concession operates during summer, as does a lifeguard office. The remaining space is storage area.
With a desire to restore this facility to its original use and care for it appropriately, the State has entered into a lease with Pavilion Partners, LLC, for adaptive reuse of the structure and the addition of a banquet center that is compatible with the nature of this historic building and the unique natural features of the site. The contract was established in 2014 and a new restroom/comfort station/facility opened during the summer of 2015, built entirely at the expense of Pavilion Partners. Initial demolition of the Pavilion’s interior commenced in 2015 and construction is expected to begin upon final plan approval.
The contract was established in 2014 and amended in 2017-18 to address specifications related to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. A new restroom/comfort station/facility opened during the summer of 2015, built entirely at the expense of Pavilion Partners. Initial demolition of the Pavilion’s interior commenced in 2015 and construction is expected to begin following final plan approval.
* The most recently updated plans for the Pavilion interior as reviewed and approved by the National Park Service (NPS) are now posted in the DOCUMENTS section below, along with the accompanying correspondence with NPS. We continue to welcome your questions and suggestions for ensuring that great visitor experiences continue to be provided for both beachgoers and users of the Pavilion services and the banquet center. Share your thoughts or ask questions by emailing DunesPavilion@dnr.IN.gov. Questions, comments and our responses will be periodically reviewed and responses provided. Subscribe to be notified when this page is updated.
This page was last updated Nov. 9, 2018
* Updated sections and/or responses as of this date are noted with an asterisk.
Limited concession services - snacks, ice cream, etc. - are available during Pavilion renovation. New restrooms opened on July 17, 2015.
The Pavilion will include a casual dining restaurant, ice cream shop and rooftop dining.. The banquet center will provide indoor space on the second floor for wedding receptions, meetings and other events. It will also be used for a variety of public programs throughout the year. The open-air first floor will be available for public picnicking, shade from the hot sun of the beach, and interpretive programs and exhibits related to the history of the state park and the dunes region. The rooftop of the banquet center may be open to the public for viewing the lake during regular park hours. This facility's design allows for an open view of the water and beautiful sunsets, both for beachgoers and for pavilion guests.
Above all, park visitors will benefit from improved and expanded food options, ability to enjoy the beach year-round, opportunity to have conferences and weddings on site, additional options for shade and seating, greatly improved restroom and shower facilities, and increased amenities such as lockers. The state park will benefit through the rehabilitation of the historic pavilion, which has been needed for decades. The park will receive a base rent, a percentage of gross revenues, a lengthened busy season, increased exposure, and increased revenue and from gate fees and annual-pass sales. The park will also gain a location for temporary exhibits and public events throughout the year. The project also is expected to attract new user groups and will benefit the entire area by increasing tourism opportunities. This will be the only beachfront dining/conference facility along Indiana’s 44 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. The developers also anticipate receiving a return on their significant investment of $3-4 million in the project.
Process for establishing this public-private partnership
The State of Indiana has an open and public process for projects such as this through the use of a prospectus (Indiana Code 14-18-2). It included these general steps:
- A prospectus was developed that provided an agency overview of the need.
- Three legal ads appeared at 10-day intervals during a 30-day period in five daily newspapers of wide and general circulation in Indiana (per IC 14-18-2-4). The project was advertised in Indianapolis, South Bend, Lafayette, Chesterton and Fort Wayne. Eighteen prospectus packets were requested and distributed.
- Potential responders asked questions, and responses to all questions were shared with those who expressed an interest in the project.
- Two proposals were submitted for review.
- A team of DNR executives and staff reviewed both proposals, and both respondents provided presentations for the team of reviewers in May 2012.
- The preferred proposal was selected.
- The Natural Resources Commission gave approval as required to negotiate a contract/lease with the selected vendor/lessee. (May 2012)
- Fall of 2011 – Prospectus developed by DNR for the adaptive reuse of the Dunes pavilion.
- Nov. 18, 2011 – First statement of intent advertised in the legal sections of newspapers in Indianapolis, South Bend, Lafayette, Chesterton and Fort Wayne. Prospectus available to interested parties.
- Nov. 30, 2011 - Second statement of intent advertised in the legal sections of newspapers in Indianapolis, South Bend, Lafayette, Chesterton and Fort Wayne.
- Dec. 16, 2011 – Third statement of intent advertised in the legal sections of newspapers in Indianapolis, South Bend, Lafayette, Chesterton and Fort Wayne.
- Jan. 26, 2012 – Deadline to submit questions to the DNR regarding the prospectus.
- February 2012 – Answers to questions provided to interested parties.
- March 1, 2012 – Deadline to submit proposals.
- Spring 2012 – Proposals received from Dunes Development Group (Pavilion Partners, LLC) and Dunes Pavilion Renaissance, Inc. were reviewed by DNR executive staff.
- May 7, 2012 – Letters sent Dunes Development Group and Dunes Pavilion Renaissance, Inc. welcoming them to attend the Natural Resource Commission (NRC) meeting on May 15.
- May 15, 2012 - The DNR requested and obtained authority to negotiate a lease with Dunes Development Group (Pavilion Partners, LLC).
- May 2012 to June 2014 – Lease negotiated.
- July 3, 2014 – Lease fully executed between the State and Dunes Pavilion Partners, LLC.
- July 2014 – February 2015:
- Lease submitted to Porter County to be recorded.
- Porter County recorder determined that the legal description of Leased Real Estate in the Lease was not sufficient for recording.
- Dunes Pavilion Partners, LLC completed a survey and a metes and bounds legal description of Leased Real Estate.
- Feb. 26, 2015 – A new fully executed Lease is completed with acceptable description of Leased Real Estate
- Jan. 2018 – Lease amendment fully executed to include LWCF language.
Yes. Language was added to the lease in 2017-18 to address specifications related to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The updated fully executed lease is now posted in the DOCUMENTS section of this webpage.
A public hearing is not required for any DNR project like this.
The architect was engaged by Pavilion Partners, LLC when they were putting together their proposal. The DNR didn’t need to give anyone “permission” to work on plans with an architect.
There are always changes and negotiations between submission of a proposal and the final agreement. A prospectus/request for proposal (RFP) gives potential vendors an opportunity to submit their creative ideas, but the DNR does not have to accept any or all of them. As a result, the lease may look very different from the initial proposal. The change in the law that allows alcohol in/around the pavilion premises was required to allow alcohol to be served in the restaurant or at banquet events. Alcohol will continue to be prohibited on the beach.
The State’s process for releasing a prospectus/request for proposal was followed. That process does not require public meetings or hearings for establishing a contract for a project. Despite that, the DNR hosted an open house and a public meeting. We received numerous comment cards and emails with comments and questions. We posted responses to those questions on this page as they were available (questions worded similarly were generally combined into one response). All required permits/approval documents are posted as they become available.
Pavilion Partners, LLC selected the architect to help evaluate the building as they prepared their proposal for submission.
Public-private partnerships are common. This project was evaluated based on the proposals submitted, not awarded based on political affiliations.
Pavilion Partners has done several presentations related to the project for local groups. When the design is completed there will be additional opportunities for discussion and input.
While new construction was not required as part of the proposal process, it was clearly acknowledged in the prospectus that the possibility of constructing a new facility (or facilities) existed. The existing pavilion structure is not suited to host any sort of public event or presentation due to the configuration of the structural pillars, which are 15 feet apart in each direction inside the pavilion. Views are obstructed from every point. The ability to conduct meetings and weddings is considered critical for the facility to be financially viable year-round. The prospectus also stated that new restrooms would need to be constructed if the restrooms were moved out of the existing building.
This is common practice, although the patron may not realize it. There are many instances where the Indiana State Parks system has concession and lease arrangements, including marinas, restaurants, lodging, and concessions. Indiana State Parks takes this approach when a service is needed but it is not financially feasible for us to develop or staff it.
The pavilion has had an outside restaurant/concession operator for decades. This project will enhance and improve what has been in place for years. Additionally, we also have specific guidelines for property signage and policies related to partnerships that place a primary focus on the natural and cultural resources.
Indiana Dunes Tourism's focus is drawing visitors to the region. They were not involved in the development of DNR's Request for Proposal (RFP) or the selection of Pavilion Partners as the partner in this project. They did help publicize the availability of the RFP to local and regional business entities, as they would with any local business opportunity that would align with their tourism goals. They provided an opportunity for a Pavilion Partners' presentation and public input at a 2015 board meeting. For additional details and responses to questions asked at that board meeting, see ""IN Dunes Tourism Statement and Q&A" in the documents section below.
Conserving the environment
All of the construction is occurring on existing concrete and asphalt. No natural areas will be affected. The DNR and the staff at Indiana Dunes work diligently to manage and protect the park’s unique natural resources. Two separate Dunes Creek daylighting projects have won multiple awards and recognition, including the Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence, the Association of Conservation Engineers national project award, the EPA / Chicago Wilderness Conservation and Native Landscaping Award, and the Izaak Walton League’s Jane Dustin Water Quality Award. The project team was also inducted into the Northwest Indiana Society of Innovators in 2013. The new Dunes Prairie Nature Preserve was dedicated in 2008. Nearly 70 acres of black oak savanna restoration has occurred, and an additional 32 acres of restoration is underway. Stewardship, interpretation and education remain a focus. Programs and initiatives such as owl banding and the 3 Dune Challenge continue to drive and increase visitation, with 2014 the highest attendance ever for the park’s Nature Center (82,691). Federal grants from the Lake Michigan Coastal Program and the U.S. EPA have been obtained each year since 2005 to maintain a crew dedicated solely to eradicating invasive species. From a historic perspective, the site of the J.D. Marshall shipwreck has been permanently protected as a nature preserve.
Because there are no federal dollars being used, no environmental impact statement (EIS) is required. However, an early coordination/environmental assessment was requested by Pavilion Partners, LLC and provided by DNR Division of Fish & Wildlife. This report is posted in the documents section below. As the project progresses, an Environmental Assessment will be completed in association with Land and Water Conservation Fund requirements.
Yes, this was completed as a part of the early coordination/environmental assessment. It is available in the documents section below.
The sand that was moved to the west of the wall where the restrooms were constructed is sand that built up at that site every winter. DNR staff moved sand from that location every spring to keep the wall from being covered. This sand is not part of a long-standing dune.
Yes, that is one of their functions, as is providing a hard surface for visitors to use for dressing, eating, etc. The concrete pad will still exist around the new building. The new building will not cover the entire pad(s). Concrete will remain under the new building on the open ground floor.
Both of the new buildings will be behind the existing concrete knee wall on the north side of the pavilion. As a result these buildings won’t change the dynamic or function of that wall. We won’t be able to extend the pad to the east because of Dunes Creek, nor to the west because of the extreme elevation change.
The surrounding dunes, which are much higher than either the pavilion is now or the banquet center will be, make the pavilion a low-profile building. Most migratory passerines stopping over will drop out into the treetops on the dunes, not on the area where there is open beach with an existing building and a parking lot behind it. Passerines in longshore flight or nocturnal flight fly higher than the pavilion. There is the potential for collisions with gulls, shorebirds and other species that might regularly visit the beach, and Pavilion Partners, LLC will look at the best options for addressing that concern.
Pavilion Partners, LLC and the DNR will be evaluating the best options to provide appropriate lighting that addresses these concerns, including the ability to turn off outside lighting during astronomy programs/events. In reality, Indiana Dunes State Park sits at the cusp of Chicago's major light pollution. The location, although benefiting from 300 miles of dark sky to the north, does not equal the stargazing opportunities that exist farther south, particularly at Tippecanoe River State Park. Despite this, interpreting the night sky has remained a priority with the park's interpretive programming and will continue to be so. Currently, park staff offers several stargazing programs, split between the beach main lot and the beach west lot. When such events are held close to the pavilion, the pavilion lights are turned off for better viewing. The beach west lot has no lighting and is optimal for stargazing in the park. On the darkest nights, the Milky Way is visible but lacks detail and is often lost as one follows it toward the horizon. Most zodiacal light is not visible from Indiana Dunes State Park.
The same moths and nocturnal insects that are affected by streetlights throughout the region may be affected by lighting here. Lunas are common moths found throughout the U.S., and they are found at Indiana Dunes State Park. Their short, one-week-long, adult lifespan and nocturnal nature makes them difficult to observe. While present, they are not abundant near the beach due to their specific host-plant needs of hickory, sweet gum, and persimmon. These species do not exist in abundance at Indiana Dunes State Park. Pavilion Partners, LLC is looking at all options to provide dark-sky friendly lighting to reduce light pollution and effects on nocturnal insects.
The flood and collapse in 2008 predated (and ultimately initiated) the phase 2 daylighting of Dunes Creek. Before the daylighting project, if floodwater breached the structure at the south end of the parking lot, it traveled to the lake via sheet-flow across the entire parking lot. This is what caused the collapse. The daylighting project created a deep channel and added significant capacity to the amount of water that can be handled by the pipe and the channel. Flooding should no longer be an issue.
We watch the route of Dunes Creek carefully during and following significant weather events, and we have, with appropriate permits in place, regularly returned the stream to its primary route to conserve the public beach space that visitors love. We anticipate that we will continue to do that. The Pavilion was constructed in 1929-30, and it is still standing.
The project is faithful to our mission and goals, which are listed at www.stateparks.IN.gov/6169.htm. The restaurant or banquet center experience will be memorable for many.
In a word, no; however, please read this entire response. It explains what LWCF is, how it works and what DNR and NPS are doing to determine potential impacts.
The LWCF is a matching-assistance program that provides grants for 50% of the cost for the acquisition and/or development of outdoor recreation sites and facilities. Since the program began, Indiana has received approximately $84 million in federal funds. The allocation usually is divided between DNR’s projects and local government park projects, depending on funding levels. More than $49 million has been provided to local agencies through the program. More than 30,000 acres of land have been acquired in Indiana with LWCF assistance for public outdoor recreation use and conservation. The main source of funding for the LWCF grants comes from federal offshore oil lease revenues. The DNR Division of Outdoor Recreation manages LWCF for Indiana. The National Park Service administers LWCF grants and oversight nationally. DNR works closely with NPS to evaluate possible projects and to ensure that LWCF-funded projects remain in compliance with policies. You can read more about the LWCF in Indiana at http://www.in.gov/dnr/outdoor/4071.htm.
When a project or land purchase uses LWCF funds, that project must provide access to outdoor recreation in perpetuity; however, when the fund was established there was an understanding that new projects created to respond to new circumstances or new public needs might result in changes to sites with LWCF funding. For that reason, a process was established called 6(f)3 conversion, which allows the NPS to review and approve requests from agencies to convert all or part of an LWCF project to uses other than outdoor recreation and replace that converted property with equal- or greater-value park property, either at the same location or at other sites, into LWCF protection.
DNR is very familiar with LWCF requirements and has worked closely with NPS in converting dozens of acres throughout Indiana – it is not an uncommon action for us. There are a number of projects at Indiana Dunes for which LWCF funds have been used. They include:
- 18-00127 Demolish all existing toilets and showers, construct new restrooms, shower/concessions (vicinity of pavilion and beach house).
- 18-00161 Trails rehabilitation.
- 18-00171 Picnic equipment 50 tables, 3 shelters, playground equipment.
- 18-00173 Comfort stations - 1 new 2 existing - campground area.
- 18-00312 9 fire rings, 4 trash dumpsters, Timberform, and 2 bicycle racks.
- 18-00327 Pavilion, picnic shelter, and parking.
- 18-00363 Picnic shelter, landscaping, campground ticket box, tables, grills, trash cans, and playground equipment.
- 18-00378 Campground and support facilities - new dump station at entrance, campground wiring at entrance, and campground entry resurfaced.
- 18-00413 Trail renovation, trail #2; new culverts, bridges, gravel and wood chips, trail #7; new markers, trail #8; Wilson Trail foot bridge, trail # I O; wood chips; boundary fences east and west ends of park.
- 18-00429 Construction of 2 restrooms in the north picnic area.
- 18-00460 Construction of the Nature Center.
We have been in discussion with DNR’s LWCF coordinator regarding the Dunes Pavilion and banquet center. We have also been in conversation with NPS’ Midwest Regional Office regarding the facilities and any impacts on LWCF requirements. NPS has determined the following:
- The new restroom-shower building is an accepted outdoor recreation use, and requires no additional evaluation through LWCF.
- Per the letter from NPS dated 9-16-16 and provided in the DOCUMENTS section below, activities planned for the Pavilion qualify as outdoor recreation uses in accordance with the NPS Memorandum for Allowable Uses of Buildings Located on LWCF 6(f)(3) Protected Lands (Memo) dated January 16, 2014, and the Pavilion requires no additional evaluation through LWCF.
- NPS has, per the same letter dated 9-16-16 in the DOCUMENTS section, determined that the banquet center will be converted from LWCF use. DNR is in discussions with NPS regarding that determination.
- Minor edits to the lease were required to specifically reference LWCF, and those revisions have been completed. The fully-executed, amended lease is posted in the DOCUMENTS section below.
- * Pavilion Partners moved forward with further design of the Pavilion with DNR approval. Pavilion Renovation Plans, dated 8-31-17, were posted in the DOCUMENTS section below.
- * The Pavilion Renovation Plans, dated 8-31-17, were reviewed by NPS. NPS requested some modifications to these 8-31-17 plans to ensure that activities planned for the Pavilion still qualified as outdoor recreation uses per the NPS 1-16-14 memo mentioned above. The letter from NPS requesting these modifications, dated 5-15-18, is posted in the DOCUMENTS section below.
- * Modifications to the 8-31-17 Pavilion Renovation Plans were made by Pavilion Partners per NPS request, and were submitted to NPS with a letter from DNR (dated 8-29-18). Both the DNR letter and these final floor plans (dated 7-31-18) are now posted in the DOCUMENTS section below.
- * NPS provided an approval letter for the Pavilion Renovation Plans dated 7-31-18, and a copy of this approval letter (dated 10-4-18) is also posted in the DOCUMENTS section.
When we make decisions about capital projects, whether it is building a new facility or renovating existing facilities, we look at the big picture and establish priorities based on funding, demographics, user needs, potential use, length of season and a variety of other factors specific to individual projects. Indiana State Parks has seven inns. Five of the seven are in southern Indiana. One is in Indianapolis. Only one — Potawatomi Inn — is in the northern part of the state. Developing a second inn in northern Indiana is an important element in providing customer satisfaction and generating revenue to support our state park inns system.
The DNR Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology (DHPA) has reviewed and approved the proposed plans for the Pavilion. DHPA uses the federal government’s Secretary of the Interior standards for historic preservation to evaluate historic buildings and their historical integrity. Using established criteria, they decide if a building is eligible to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. If a building is listed, or even eligible to be listed, certain protections come with that, but it does not mean a historic building owned by the State cannot be changed, or even demolished. There is a process we must go through if we have a project that will alter a historic building. Pavilion Partners, LLC is fully committed to increasing access and enhancing the visitor experience to the Dunes by sensitively and carefully restoring the Pavilion building. Photographs of the original interior and exterior of the building are being used to guide decisions about the restoration.
The Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology reviewed the plans for the pavilion, restrooms and early design of the banquet center. Approval letters can be viewed in the documents section below. Virtue Architects continues to work on the banquet center plans with comments and advice from DHPA. When those plans are complete, they will be posted on this site.
Yes. Everyone will be welcome to eat meals in the restaurant or rent the banquet center for weddings or other events and participate in any public programs that may be held in the banquet center.
Plans are still under development for the banquet center. We expect that the ground floor of the banquet center will provide a location for periodic outdoor-themed programs and exhibits available to all park visitors. The ground floor will have picnic tables for visitors to use, and the open-air design allows for public access at all times.
A variety of programs may also be scheduled using the banquet center space. These programs will generally include both indoor and outdoor elements to be compatible with LWCF requirements. Some examples may include lakefront bird observation and speakers, maritime/shipwreck presentations, shelf ice observation, workshops paired with meals hosted by the pavilion restaurant, public art exhibits and much more.
In addition, the rooftop above the banquet facility may be open to all park visitors during regular park hours and will provide both accessible and scenic views of Lake Michigan.
No, this project will not hinder beach access. Currently, beach goers access the beach from either the Pavilion Lot or the West Lot. From the Pavilion Lot, users must access the beach via one of the two openings in the wall in front of the pavilion. Both openings will remain with unrestricted access. Access from the west lot will not be affected.
No, the beach hours will remain the same, and there will be no additional cost for lifeguards or DNR staff related to the beach.
The maximum vehicle capacity of the park will not change, so traffic will be handled in the same way as we currently handle our busy days. There will be no reserved or preferential parking. Once the lots are full, we will let a number of vehicles in as a corresponding number of vehicles exit. For emergency vehicles, we use park staff to stop outgoing traffic. Responders enter the park via the outgoing (west) lane, passing the vehicles in queue. Pavilion Partners, LLC is also looking closely at options for shuttling in banquet customers. And, as a reminder, there will be no hotel facilities developed in the state park.
This project will reduce existing parking by six spaces. Off-site parking/shuttle options are being analyzed. The Dunes Creek daylighting project and the entrance improvements have reduced beach parking at Indiana Dunes by more than 600 spaces over the last decade. This has reduced the carrying capacity on the busiest weekend days. The reduction has greatly improved the visitor experience. Weekday visitation has increased significantly, more than offsetting any revenue or visitation that was lost on weekends from reduced parking.
No. There will be no reserved or set-aside parking; all three beach lots will remain first-come/first-served. Off-site parking and shuttle services are planned for events at the new center to minimize parking concerns for beach guests and provide convenience to event attendees.
Yes, visitors to the restaurant and banquet center will, for the most part, pay the gate fee. Gate fees may be rolled into a banquet cost for groups if requested. There are occasions across the state parks system where we issue gate waivers or issue special permits for groups. The lease allows Pavilion Partners, LLC to apply for such gate waivers; however, applying for a gate waiver does not mean the request will be granted.
We occasionally have requests for weddings on the beach. Individuals may currently apply for a $50 wedding permit from the DNR. Ceremonies are allowed ONLY after regular beach hours. No receptions are currently allowed on the beach. After the banquet center opens, weddings may be held in the banquet center. If individuals want to hold a ceremony on the beach, they will still need to obtain a $50 wedding permit. Ceremonies will only be approved to be held after the regular beach hours, just as is the case now.
We cannot stipulate that, but we do not intend to allow Pavilion Partners, LLC unlimited access to the beach. We do not intend to disrupt beach use for visitors, but there are occasional weddings on the beach NOW, after official beach hours, and there are occasions outside the summer season where we DO have roped-off areas for events. For example, we host a permitted event every other year in May with metal detector enthusiasts.
The park fills to capacity only 15-20 days per year. The remaining 350 days have ample parking. The developers understand that there is no ability to give preferential treatment to those waiting in line to enter the park, and their business model will reflect that knowledge. For example, they will not book a wedding for 2 p.m. on a Saturday in July. The increased visitation will occur later in the day (on busy days), on weekdays, and during the three non-summer seasons. Mid-day weekend visitation will not increase. We are already at capacity on those days.
We do not have a specific opening date; we will provide details for making reservations for events when available.
Cleaning and restroom maintenance remains the responsibility of Pavilion Partners. We have reached a mutual agreement with them that the Indiana Department of Natural Resources will do the day-to-day cleaning and will be reimbursed for that work by Pavilion Partners.
Yes, but alcohol will continue to be prohibited on all other parts of the property, including the beach.
2012 - Legislation was initially passed to allow alcohol in the pavilion as a part of the dining experience after this restoration is complete, since there was a prohibition on alcohol in all of Indiana Dunes State Park at that time. (Note - that prohibition does not extend to other state parks and reservoirs, other than at beaches.). A 2014 Natural Resources Commission ruling reinforced this approach.
2015 - Legislation passed that also allows alcohol within 100 feet of the pavilion premises as legally defined in the lease. This extension was primarily to accommodate one-day, off-season events such as a wine-tasting that might be planned for a tent set up in the parking lot. Pavilion Partners, LLC is required to obtain a special events permit from the DNR for any event of this nature outside the pavilion, and approval is not guaranteed. Pavilion Partners is also required to obtain all appropriate alcohol licenses and permits for the pavilion or for special events approved by the DNR. These permits would clearly define where alcohol is allowed and where it is prohibited. Alcohol will continue to be banned throughout the rest of the park, including the beach.
2016 – Legislation (IC 7.1-3-17.8) passed that allows DNR to obtain an alcohol permit directly from the State Alcohol and Tobacco Commission (ATC) for state parks or sections of state parks without county ATC review. To clarify how DNR intend to work within the framework of this legislation, two follow-up emergency rules have been signed and posted that do the following:
- Emergency Rule LSA Document #16-273(E), which temporarily adds a definition of state park in 312 IAC 8-1.5 pursuant to IC 7.1-3-17.8. Effective July 1, 2016. This in effect defines which properties operated by the Division of State Parks that the Division may request three-way alcohol permits for. It does not mean that we are required to apply for three-way permits for each of these facilities. Although the 8 big reservoirs are a part of the Division of State Parks, they are not included on this list for possible alcohol permits by the Division. The process for permanent adoption of this rule will begin at the Natural Resources Commission meeting on July 19, 2016.
- Emergency Rule LSA Document #16-274, which temporarily amends 312 IAC 8-2-5 to allow the consumption or possession of an alcoholic beverage at Indiana Dunes State Park as authorized by IC 7.1-3-17.8 or IC 14-18-2-3. Effective July 1, 2016. Prior to this change, the rule provided that alcohol was only allowed pursuant to IC 14-18-2-3. The requested changed in the rule is necessary to reflect the legislative amendments made during the 2016 session that allow DNR to obtain an alcohol permit directly from the ATC. This emergency rule simply aligns our property rules with the legislation. The process for permanent rule adoption, which will begin at the Natural Resources Commission on July 19, 2016, will clearly state that alcohol is not permitted at the beach or any other part of the property. Dunes will continue to have the most restrictive alcohol policy of any property within the state park system.
These two emergency rules have been added to our list of documents on this webpage. The permanent rule promulgation process begins, as noted, with the Natural Resources Commission on July 19, 2016.
2017 – Final promulgation of the aforementioned rule that defines where DNR may apply for 3-way alcohol permits directly through the ATC, and clarifies that alcohol is permitted at the pavilion and banquet center but is still prohibited throughout the rest of the park. This rule negates the 2 emergency rules listed above, and brings DNR rules in line with the legislation described above that was passed in 2016.
This legislation can certainly impact the Pavilion and banquet center at Indiana Dunes, but it also allows DNR to obtain three-way permits for the sale of alcohol for shelters, amphitheaters and other areas of some state parks that are popular for weddings and other large group events. DNR – and in particular our Indiana State Park Inns – can cater those events and bear the responsibility for alcohol service and monitoring rather than a family or organization member.
Alcohol will continue to be banned throughout the rest of the park and beach.
Alcohol is allowed at all other parks. Furthermore, all of the Indiana State Park Inns have obtained the appropriate permits and currently sell alcoholic beverages. The 2012 and 2014 legislation allows application for three-way alcohol permits for the Pavilion and Banquet Center, and for the area just outside the Pavilion/Banquet Center for special events IF DNR agrees to those special events. The 2016 legislation allows us to request permits that expand beyond the individual state park inns to large shelters or other facilities where guests may want to host events that include alcohol
Security will be the responsibility of Pavilion Partners, LLC through those who are renting a facility. The DNR will not provide additional security or lifeguards. The issue of driving while under the influence will continue to be monitored by local law enforcement officers, just as in the past.
Pavilion Partners, LLC staff and security will be responsible for policing this and making sure items are not discarded on the beach. Alcohol is still prohibited on the beach.
The state is self-insured, so we do not have insurance costs. Pavilion Partners is required by the lease to hold insurance and name the DNR as additionally insured.
The party filing a lawsuit can sue whomever they feel is appropriate. However, filing a lawsuit is just the beginning; the party must also prove its case against those being sued
Banquet center design
Conceptual design for the banquet center is still under development. Pavilion Partners is considering many of the questions and concerns submitted through the website and in the public open house and meeting.
Whatever the final design, the pillars on the first floor of the banquet center will be spaced so that the lake is visible.
The attraction for weddings and meetings is the ability to see the beach and Lake Michigan from the building.
The ability to succeed financially with a year-round restaurant operation also requires a good banquet facility.
The unique value of releasing a prospectus or request for proposal is that it allows potential vendors to submit their ideas. The design of the banquet center is still in progress — the focus right now is on completing the pavilion renovations and getting the restrooms in place. Plans for the banquet center will be released when complete.
Pavilion Partners, LLC is looking at all options for construction. LEED certification, which certifies construction is being done in a “green” manner, is being explored
The DNR staff and Pavilion Partners, LLC spent time looking at the building site from the old gatehouse location to determine whether the new building will be visible as people drive into the park. The actual footprint of the new building is 8,650 square feet. It does not appear, from our observations, that the new building will obstruct the view of the lake in the distance from the old gatehouse. The new building will be concealed by the trees to the west of the park road.
The lake will still be visible from the parking lot, and visitors may be able to go to the rooftop of the banquet center to observe Lake Michigan during regular park hours.
The banquet center is about 17,000 square feet, much smaller than the 30,000 square feet that some seem to be sharing. The actual footprint of the building is approximately 8,650 square feet and will be built entirely on existing concrete.
Indiana Dunes State Park is located in an unincorporated area. No building permits are required from Chesterton or other local towns
The LMCP is based upon existing state laws and is by default non-regulatory. Because the DNR followed all applicable state laws, the LMCP does not have any additional oversight on the issue.
Terms of lease
The original lease term is 35 years with two options to renew. Each renewal period is 15 years. The term of the lease and the options to renew are contingent upon the Lessee performing satisfactorily, not being in default, and meeting the notice provisions of the Lease. Any holdover period is treated as a month-to-month tenancy that automatically terminates after 12 months. Upon expiration or early termination of the lease, the Lessee surrenders the leased premises and improvements to the State. If the lease ends with no renewal or the full 65 years has been completed, the prospectus will go out for bid. The buildings belong to the State.
Yes, the State can terminate the lease either for convenience or for cause. Compensation for such termination is addressed in the lease. Please see the documents section, 14.16 and 14.17, of the lease in the documents section below to view the entire lease.
The preferential right applies if additional services are deemed necessary by the State and are not provided by the State. As the Lessor, the State has the option to provide the additional services regardless of the preferential rights in the lease. Further, the preferential rights also require that certain steps be met and are subject to laws and regulations. As a result, competition might occur.
There are no plans to build a hotel at Indiana Dunes State Park. This is a stand-alone project that has great public support. It is not part of a larger strategy or goal of any sort, beyond simply improving the user experience and improving the facility.
That has not been determined. Because of the long-term nature of the lease and investment by the Lessee, this language merely provides the opportunity to raise and discuss the situation.
This is standard procedure in contracts. The daily detailed accounting documentation is paid for by the lessee/contractor. Our auditors — both DNR internal auditors and the State Board of Accounts auditors — can request to see Pavilion Partners’ books at any time.
The DNR has internal auditors for the review of DNR operations throughout the State. However, auditors with State Board of Accounts may also conduct an audit. The “three years” provision provides time for either or both sets of auditors to review information. If an audit shows an underpayment by the Lessee, then the Lessee must pay the amount due with interest. If the Lessee fails to pay, then the State can pursue available legal remedies. Any money owed after the lease ends will still be owed.
If the Lessee fails to pay rent, that is a breach of the Lease. The State has the legal remedies available for a breach, if the payment of rent is not made within the designated time period. Additionally, the State is able to file a lien on the Lessee’s property and, in the event of a bankruptcy, the State, as lessor, has the option to terminate the lease and take over possession of the leased premises. See Section 10.03 in lease related to a Surety Bond (page 25).
Yes – See Section 10.02 of the lease (page 25) found in the documents section below.
About Pavilion Partners
Pavilion Partners, LLC is an investment group that assembled a team of expert talent to renovate the Indiana Dunes Park pavilion and add a 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. Pavilion Partners, LLC includes Valparaiso businessman Chuck Williams, managing partner for a real estate development and holding company; Tom Collins and Ryan Richardson, who operate County Line Orchard in Hobart; and architect Scott Virtue, who worked with Williams on the award-winning restoration of the historic downtown Valparaiso building.
Resumes and information are provided on pages 21-25 of Pavilion Partners’ proposal, which can be found in the documents section below.
Luke Oil Construction.
This is listed in the qualifications section in the proposal that is attached to the lease and at www.virtuearchitects.com.
Finances and revenue
Pavilion Partners, LLC is fully funding the project. No state funds are being used. The pavilion, as well as the new facilities, will belong to the State of Indiana, both during and after the lease period.
The significant capital investment required, along with the long-term operational costs, make that impractical. Public-private partnerships are working successfully in our system in several locations, and this is considered the best option for preventing further deterioration of the pavilion and ensuring its restoration and use for years to come.
Revenue generated from restaurant facilities in the pavilion alone is not a financially viable project. The additional revenue generated by a banquet center will allow the restaurant to be available year-round for Dunes visitors.
See Pavilion Partners’ pro forma financial proposal on page 18 of the Pavilion Partners proposal, which is attached to the lease and posted in the documents section below. It should be noted that Pavilion Partners is building a restroom/shower facility at its expense. The restroom/shower facility will become a State asset.
We have public-private partnerships in several other locations as noted below:
- Kent’s Harbor (Brookville Lake) – The DNR receives 1% of gross revenue; 5% on Restaurant Lease. They sub-contract out their restaurant.
- Four Winds Resort and Conference Center (Monroe Lake) – The DNR receives $10,000 on 1st $1,500,000; 3.5% on $1,500,001 to $3,300,000; 7% on $3,300,001 to $5,000,000; 4.5% on sales greater than $5,000,000.
- Lake Monroe Marina – The DNR receives 5% of first $300,000; 7% greater than $300,000.
- Red Bridge Marina (Mississinewa Lake) – The DNR receives 2% on 1st $50,000; 5% greater than $250,000.
- Lake Monroe Sailing Association – The DNR receives 2% of gross receipts.
- Hoosier Hills – The DNR receives$5,000 flat fee; 5% of gross receipts.
- Patoka Lake Marina – The DNR receives $5,000 flat fee; 5% of 1st $200,000; 10% $200,001 to $1,000,000; 5% greater than $1,000,000.
- **Gasoline/Diesel sales excluded, 1% on sales from gasoline/diesel for Patoka Lake Marina.
Lease payments and the percentage of the profit that the DNR receives goes directly into a dedicated account for Indiana State Parks.
In Fiscal Year 2017, the park generated $2,098,890.08. Indiana Dunes State Park’s Fiscal Year 2017 operating expenditures were $1,040,379.39. Some parks generate more dollars than they use; some do not. All revenue from all Indiana State Parks is deposited in a dedicated fund that supports operational expenses (supplies, utilities, staff for management, cleaning, security, mowing, programming, gate operation, etc.) all 32 parks. This allows us to provide a state parks experience within an hour of every Hoosier.
The Indiana State Parks system was founded with a “user pays” philosophy in lieu of being solely reliant on tax dollars. Currently, 70 percent of our operational costs come from user fees and revenue from contracts such as this one. Only 30 percent is funded through the State legislature’s appropriation process. Revenue from Indiana Dunes, and from all other state parks, goes directly to the Division of State Parks to support the State Parks system as a whole. Indiana Dunes directly benefits from this structure through the funding of staff salaries, utilities, supplies and other operational costs.
Use the latest version of Adobe Acrobat to view these PDF documents.
- Pavilion Partners Fact Sheet
- Legal Ads Placed for Pavilion Project
- Names and Dates of those that Requested Prospectus
- DHPA Interim Archaeological Report
- Original DNR RFP, Pavilion Partners Proposal and Signed Lease
- DHPA Archaeology Approval
- DHPA Archaeology Workplan
- DHPA Project Approval
- Environmental Review
- Division of Water Floodplain Analysis
- Asbestos Abatement
- Dunes Renaissance, Inc. Proposal
- Wastewater Treatment Plant Permit
- NRC Minutes Approval for Project Negotiations to Begin
- Comfort Station Plans
- Comfort Station Construction Design Release
- Full Comfort Station Design Release
- Pavilion Construction Design Release
- IN Dunes Tourism Statement and Q&A
- Emergency Rule LSA Document #16-273(E) (Definition of State Park)
- Emergency Rule LSA Document #16-274 (Consumption of Alcohol)
- National Park Service Approval of Pavilion Work Sept. 16, 2016
- Legislative Services Hearing Officer Report on Alcohol Rule
- PP-DNR Lease Amendment Dec. 12, 2016
- PP-DNR Lease Amendment Jan. 11, 2018
- Pavilion Renovation Plans Aug. 31, 2017
- ACHP Letter to PEER Supporting LWCF Decision that no Additional Review of Pavilion Plans are Required
- NPS Memo Regarding Buildings Built Before LWCF Section (6)(f)(3)
- Construction Release
- NPS Response to DNR Plan Changes May 15, 2018
- Pavilion Renovation Plans July 31, 2018
- DNR Letter to NPS about Revised Pavilion Plans Aug. 29, 2018
- NPS Response to Revised Pavilion Plans Oct. 4, 2018
Public records requests related to the Dunes Pavilion project can be sent to DunesPavilion@dnr.IN.gov.