City looks to demolish, replace Pavilion; while council seems cold toward a third ice arena

Judging by city council members' comments, the idea of replacing the historic Pavilion seemed to have a great deal of support at the meeting.

A preliminary design for a building to replace the Detroit Lakes Pavilion in City Park.
Contributed / RDG Group

DETROIT LAKES — RDG Consulting has been studying several potential projects in Detroit Lakes, including replacing the Pavilion in City Park, and renovating the city ice arenas — possibly to include a third arena in the complex.

On Tuesday, the city council got a look at the preliminary plans.

Judging from feedback from a focus group and a public open house in August, the preferred option for a Pavilion replacement is a large structure with lots of glass, said Cary Thomsen, senior partner and community studio manager at RDG Planning & Design of Omaha. He spoke at the meeting through video conferencing.

A bird's-eye view of the proposed pavilion-replacement project.
Contributed / RDG Group

He showed a preliminary artist’s rendition of a two-story glass-and-stone pavilion with a banquet room large enough to seat 400 people comfortably.

That large, high banquet room could be divided into three rooms through movable partitions.


DLPF web graphic Detroit Lakes Pavilion 2020
The Pavilion
Detroit Lakes Tribune file photo
1425811+1-4 pavilion 1 bw.jpg
The Detroit Lakes Pavilion opened its doors on Sept. 10, 1915, and about 2,000 people came to check out the building inside and out.
Contributed / Becker County Historical Society

At first glance, the proposed building seemed “really big,” said City Administrator Kelcey Klemm. But when staff looked at possible downsizing, they realized the bathrooms and other infrastructure is needed to support a facility for 400 guests sitting at smaller round tables, instead of the long tables now in use at the Pavilion that can pack in more people.

So the preliminary plan calls for restrooms, hallways, a concession area, and support facilities adequate for 400-500 people on the ground floor. And there would also be rooftop patios, meeting rooms, bathrooms and other amenities on the second floor.

A large open space on the second floor would overlook the big banquet room on the ground floor. An elevator would connect the two stories, and the building would be designed for year-round use, with heating and air conditioning.

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Several city council members wondered aloud whether the new building would be large enough for a growing city. “Why not make it bigger?” asked Alderman Wendy Spry.

“What size (building) does Detroit Lakes need to have a convention to bring people into DL and not lose money on it?” asked Alderman Ron Zeman.

The existing Pavilion is 11,780 square feet, and the preliminary replacement plans call for a much larger building — 15,180 square feet on the main floor and another 7,670 square feet on the second floor.

“So it’s almost double in size to what the Pavilion is now,” Thomsen said.

The main hall would be designed to comfortably host wedding receptions and similar events, and will be equipped with a stage as well as partitions.


A catering area “is a big necessity,” and would also be included, Thomsen said.

The second-floor patios were included in the spirit of the balconies and outside open areas at the nearby Hub41 pub. A lot of people told the consultants they’d like to see the new pavilion copy the Hub41 style, Thomsen said. “That’s why those (patios) were included.”

The parking area would be moved closer to the new pavilion, and a green space/ice rink would go to the east of the building, where the dumpsters are now.

The overall pavilion project includes the beach area to the east, which would see a new or renovated bathhouse, relocated playground and a splash pad area for children.

The project would not affect the rest of City Park. ”Anything east of the existing parking lot would not be touched,” Thomsen said.

pavilion3 (inside design).jpg
A look at the preliminary interior design of the building that could replace the historic Pavilion in City Park.
Contributed/RDG Group

Judging by comments by city council members, the idea of replacing the historic Pavilion seemed to have a great deal of support at the meeting — although Alderman Matt Boeke said, based on what he heard at public meetings, designers “really need to add some historical flavor to what is there. There were a lot of historical nods, and we really need to save some of what we have.” He supports the general concept, however.

Madalyn Sukke said she supports the plan, “but this looks nothing like the historical Pavilion … I like it, but I know the comments we’re going to get,” she said, wondering how the Minnesota State Historic Preservation Office feels about the proposal.

pavilion4 (artist from above) .jpg
The preliminary design for the Pavilion-replacement project in City Park.
Contributed/RDG Group

The City Park and beach bathhouse are on the U.S. Register of Historic Places, but the Pavilion is not, so it could be torn down and replaced. The new building could include artifacts from the historical Pavilion — such as the large steel trusses, or pieces of the hardwood floor repurposed as artwork, Thomsen said.


“This is very early in the design process,” he added. “There will be several iterations of this design, and they will have input on that too.”

The Historic Preservation Office would like the city to save the nearby bathhouse if possible, Thomsen said. That brought an unenthusiastic response from council members, since that low, dark building has never been especially loved for its looks or utility.

Third ice arena is controversial

But there was more of a split among council members when it came to plans for the city ice arena complex.

What started out as a proposal to upgrade and improve the look of the two arenas has morphed into a plan to add a third ice arena in front of the existing two, on the Rossman Avenue side of the complex.

There would be 537 parking spaces, and paved parking would be moved and expanded, especially on the south side toward the beach, where the county fair midway sets up.

cary Thomsen.JPG
Cary Thomsen, senior partner and community studio manager at RDG Planning & Design of Omaha.
Nathan Bowe / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The plan also includes revamping the Rossman Avenue bathhouse area across from City Beach. That would help tie the beach to the arena, and would tie in “with any future development” to the west along West Lake Drive, said Thomsen.

Alderman Ron Zeman made it clear he would not support the plan unless the arena complex supported non-skating sports as well, perhaps by repurposing one of the existing arenas.

Sukke noted that voters could opt to extend the special city sales tax (used to build the new police station, which is expected to be paid off in May) to build the expanded arena complex.


But the city would still have to pay for ongoing upkeep and maintenance, she said. “I’ve heard the school district does not support putting more (maintenance money) into it than they do now,” Sukke added.

arena2 (plans).jpg
A bird's-eye view of the tentative arena complex, with the two existing ice arenas and the Flyer's Gymnastics buildings shown in white, and the new ice arena and potential connecting areas shown in red.
Contributed / RDG Group

“We’re talking 110,000 square feet,” Zeman added. “That’s a lot of space to have to maintain.” He added that fewer kids seem to be going into hockey, perhaps because of the cost, and many are pursuing other activities. “All we hear is ice, ice, ice,” he said. “If that’s all we’re doing, I don’t think the voters will support it.”

But Boeke said the extra sheet of ice would give a big boost to the city’s hockey program, and noted that other cities such as Alexandria, Crookston and Bemidji already have more than two sheets of indoor ice.

The meeting was an informational session of the city council, so no action was taken.

A preliminary artist's rendition showing three ice arenas (the yellow one, closest to Rossman Avenue, would be the new arena) and the smaller Flyers Gymnastics building, which will likely not be connected to the complex as shown.
Contributed / RDG Group

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