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Plan for historic pavilion in Minn. lakes country includes razing, rebuilding

The big, freshly refinished dance floor inside the Pavilion shines in the sunlight. Paula Quam / Forum News Service1 / 3
The Pavilion would be torn down and rebuilt in a slightly different location under this proposal in the West Lake Drive Plan, soon to be voted on by the Detroit Lakes City Council. Special to Forum News Service2 / 3
The Pavilion has been part of the Detroit Lakes beach scene for decades — since 1915, to be exact. Paula Quam / Forum News Service3 / 3

DETROIT LAKES, Minn.—The Pavilion on the Detroit Lakes city beach has been around for over 100 years — hosting summer dances on its big wooden dance floor. Now the city-owned building is a popular venue for wedding dances on summer weekends.

In 2006, money was raised to restore the dance floor and renovate 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 and drainage issues have rotted window frames, decayed concrete and highlighted leaks in the roof.

A 2012 engineering study said it would cost around $120,000 to $170,000 (in 2012 dollars) to insulate the foundation from frost heaves and improve drainage.

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.

BHH Partners architectural firm said in its 2012 report to the city that "annual repairs will continue to grow in cost with each continuing year" and significant upgrades "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.

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