Language Translation
  Close Menu

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 changed, and the DNR was unable to adequately fund interior restoration and maintenance. The facility’s aging restrooms did not meet the needs of visitors. A small concession operated during summer, as did a lifeguard office. The remaining space was storage.

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.

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 by the National Park Service (NPS) are now posted in the DOCUMENTS section below, along with the accompanying correspondence with NPS. The lease was amended again (fully executed in April 2019) to include a timeline for completion of the Pavilion restoration portion of the project. This amendment, dated April 4 2019, is also posted in the DOCUMENTS section. Construction on the Pavilion began in April 2019.

An additional amendment was established in 2020 to further clarify completion dates for the Pavilion restoration. This amendment, dated December 2, 2020, is posted in the DOCUMENTS section.

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 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 Dec. 11, 2020.


What pavilion services are available during the summer season while construction is in progress?
What facilities will the pavilion and banquet center include?
Are there future plans to construct a hotel at the site?
Who stands to benefit from this project?

Process for establishing this public-private partnership

What process was used to select the company that will restore and operate the facilities?
* What was the specific timeline for the development of this lease?
* Have any revisions been made to the lease?
Why was demolition begun prior to any public hearing?
When did DNR give permission to work on plans with the architect?
It appears there were several changes between receipt of the original proposal and when the initial lease was signed—is that normal?
How much visitor, taxpayer and citizenry input was taken into consideration?
Was an outside consultant used in the decision to add a banquet facility, or was it the architect who was hired to design a new facility making that decision?
Why are a select few individuals - many of them with Republican Party ties - allowed to profit at the taxpayers and the dunes expense?
When will Pavilion Partners answer questions about the project?
How did the banquet center come about? I knew about a restaurant but nothing about new construction of a conference facility.
Is it appropriate for a private business to operate inside an Indiana State Park?
What role has Indiana Dunes Tourism played in this project if any?

Conserving the environment

Will this affect any remaining natural areas of the park?
Where is the environmental impact report?
Was an endangered species review done?
We thought the DNR agreed not to disturb the sand dunes. Was sand removed/disturbed in the area near the new restrooms?
Don’t the concrete pads around the pavilion help prevent sand erosion from around the pavilion and help preserve the foundation?
What will prevent further sand erosion when these other two buildings are constructed?
Will there be any treatments or efforts made to reduce the impact on bird populations because the banquet center might contain a lot of glass?
How will concerns about the value of dark skies for astronomy programs and viewing stars and the Milky Way be addressed?
Are there any luna moths in Indiana Dunes State Park, and what impact do you expect the pavilion project will have on them?
The project is in a floodplain, and a portion of the area where the building is planned collapsed during heavy rainfall in 2008. How will the possibility of future collapse be addressed?
In the spring of 2016, the route of Dunes Creek changed significantly as a result of weather conditions. The route moved the creek much closer to the Pavilion. Should that not be a consideration in the construction process?
How does this project fit with the slogan, "memories made naturally?"
Will Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) requirements affect completion of this project?

Historic preservation

Why build a new building like the inn at Potato Creek when we have old buildings to take care of?
Aren’t historic structures on state properties protected from modification?
When did the State Historic Preservation Officer sign off on this project? Can we get copies of the approval? Will the final versions of the banquet center plans be reviewed and approved?

Park logistics

Is the facility open to all?
What types of public programs might be offered in the banquet center?
Will this project reduce beach access?
Will the beach be open during different hours for the people at parties in the banquet center?
Can the two-lane road handle the increase in traffic, including beach goers, vendors, hotel accommodations and emergency/first responders?
Will there be a loss of parking?
Will the pavilion lot be available only for customers of the pavilion restaurant/banquet center?
Do guests going to the banquet center have to pay to get into the park?
Can people have wedding ceremonies on the beach?
Will DNR stipulate in writing that not now or ever will the beach be cordoned off for a “wedding on the beach” or other private, commercial event?
Isn’t the park already too busy to add this facility?
When will the banquet facility be open, and when can facility reservations be made?
Who is cleaning the comfort station/restrooms?


Will alcohol be allowed in the pavilion restaurant and banquet center?
It seems there have been several pieces of legislation passed related to alcohol on DNR properties over the last few years. Can you clarify that timeline and why the legislation was passed?
Won’t this increase the possibility of alcohol on the beach?
Why did the legislation need to be passed? Why are no other state parks seeking the ability to allow or provide alcohol?
Will there be safety issues for pedestrians with drivers who have been drinking? Will the DNR pay for additional security and lifeguards that may be needed?
What will you do about broken glass or littering on the beach from the use of alcohol?
Will the state have a higher insurance cost because of this added activity at the beach?
Who will be sued if someone drowns because they consumed alcohol within the park gates?

Banquet center design

Is the design completed for the banquet center? Can we make recommendations?
How are we going to see the lake through the pillars?
Why put the banquet center here instead of somewhere else in the park?
Why not just renovate/reuse the existing pavilion instead of adding a banquet facility?
The public notice advertising the prospectus says nothing about another building. Can Pavilion Partners provide copies of scaled drawings?
Will the building be constructed using sustainable methods and materials?
Will the banquet center block the view to Lake Michigan from the entrance road?
Will the new structures block the view of the lake?
How big is the new banquet center going to be?
Are building permits required for the construction?
Why hasn't the Lake Michigan Coastal Program asked for a hearing?

Terms of lease

What happens when the lease expires?
Can the contract be broken and at what expense?
The contractor has first right of refusal for any future development – does this mean there will be no competition if something else is built?
Is this a strategy/starting point for development of a hotel?
Section 4.05 of the lease refers to additions to payments if “significant cost or expenses” incurred. What kind of adjustments would be made?
Section 4.06 of the lease indicates that an independent accountant is required. Why does Pavilion Partners, LLC use their own and not one of State’s?
Section 4.07 of the lease indicates that the State runs audits “from time to time” How is this accomplished, and if money is found to be owed, can it be collected?
What security/protection does the state have to ensure payment of rent and protection from failure?
Is there a hold harmless clause in the lease?

About Pavilion Partners

Who is Pavilion Partners, LLC?
Who is doing the actual construction?

Finances and revenue

Who is paying for this development?
Why isn’t the State doing this project with State funds?
Why not just renovate the pavilion and build no new structure beside it?
What are the gross receipts expected to be, and why is the percentage the State is going to receive so low?
How do other public/private partnership profits for DNR compare to this one?
Where do the payments (2 percent of revenue and $18,000 in rent per year) go?
How much gross revenue does Indiana Dunes State Park generate annually, and how much State funding does the park receive annually?
Why does revenue matter? Where does revenue go?


Use the latest version of Adobe Acrobat to view these PDF documents. These documents are listed in order of oldest to most recent.

Public records requests related to the Dunes Pavilion project can be sent to

 Upcoming Events

More Events

 Top FAQs