A new pavilion in Woodstock aimed at being both a gathering for people and a versatile venue could be designed and shovel-ready by the beginning of 2023, Woodstock officials said.
The pavilion, which is still in the conceptual phase, could be an extension of the city’s historic Square, Mayor Mike Turner said, calling it a “modern gathering place” that could strengthen the downtown.
In addition to it being a park-style area where people could gather, it could also host a variety of events, such as concerts, farmers’ markets and festivals, Turner said.
The pavilion, as currently rendered, would go in the downtown area next to Woodstock Metra Station East off Clay Street, Executive Director of Business Development Danielle Gulli said. She said she thinks it’s a great area to have a community-gathering area.
If the pavilion comes to fruition, another idea is to create a system around it that would allow the open area to become an ice-skating spot in the winter, Turner said.
“I think it has the potential to really energize downtown with additional residents, commercial opportunities and … make Woodstock an even better place to live and visit,” Turner said.
The hope is for it to draw more businesses to the area, Turner said.
Paired with various infrastructure projects Woodstock has planned, it could help with density in the downtown area, Gulli said.
“We’ve got an opportunity in the downtown for development,” Gulli said. “We have a lot of unique opportunity sites. When you look at all that, Woodstock is very ripe.”
Woodstock Chamber of Commerce President Brad Ball said he thinks it’s a neat idea and could help attract business to the city.
“I think it is a very interesting design and concept that I think captured a lot of people’s interest,” Ball said. “We’re very interested to see how the details and design progresses.”
Turner said he took the idea to PanCor Construction, who drew up a concept plan that “blew me out of the water,” he said. The city, as part of looking into costs, opted to buy the plan to talk with other developers.
So early in the process, it’s hard to know what the cost could be, Turner said, though there are some thoughts on how to pay for it, including sponsorships, ticketed events to the pavilion, fundraising, tax increment financing, and federal COVID-19 stimulus dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act, from which the city received $3.4 million.
“We think it’s doable to finance it through a combination of methods,” Turner said. “I’m not looking to use debt or property taxes.”
Gulli called a timeline that sees the project ready to construct by the end of the year “aggressive,” though the tentative goal is to have the final decision from City Council by the end of the year. The pavilion could then be built around 2023 or 2024, Turner said.
Ball said he appreciates “visionary ideas like this,” which he said could be transformative.
“I think a lot of communities spend a lot of time and effort and don’t necessarily get very far in terms of making change,” he said. “I really appreciate the effort to bring transformative change to continually make Woodstock a better place.”