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Concert Pavilion In Plans For Donovan Park

Exterior of the park
Peoria Park District / Donovan Park
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Peoria's Donovan Park could be home to a 1,500-seat performing arts pavilion.

Plans to build a 1,500-seat performing arts pavilion in Peoria’s Donovan Park are moving forward.

The Peoria Park District’s Board of Trustees recently granted permission to negotiate a lease agreement with the private, nonprofit Pavilion Arts Centre organization for up to 18 acres in the park's southeast corner.

“Anytime we're able to bring new things into our inventory that don't compete with other things and help to augment them, it's really good for our entire community,” said Park District Executive Director Emily Cahill. “Certainly, we see this project in that light.”

The nonprofit group, led by Rennie Atterbury and Sara Connor James, consulted with park district staff on development of the project. The organization will be in charge of fundraising, development, construction and operation of the facility.

“It will be their capital dollars that they generate through donor solicitation,” explained Cahill. “In talking with them, they plan to cast their net very widely and look at entities outside of the Peoria area who have a connection to Peoria – our past, our present and our future – to be able to generate these dollars.

“Once they have raised the dollars to put the project in place, then groundbreaking will begin and they will work through the construction process. I believe that their plan is that it would take up to 18 months for construction. It's certainly something that is driven by the success of their fundraising, and we want to be good supporters of that to make sure that people know about the project.”

Cahill said current plans call for an open air venue that could be used from spring through fall, with outside seating potentially expanding capacity to 2,000. She said the private organization intends the facility to be built to “green standards,” with innovative approaches to lighting and parking.

“That's one of the reasons that we really have enjoyed working with this group so far. They certainly take those environmental concerns to heart and want to make sure that they are a complement to the park,” she said.

Cahill said the district hopes to have a final lease agreement in place by the end of the year.

“It is a very well-rounded project that has lots of opportunities to support our community, both from an entertainment standpoint and also from a workforce development standpoint,” she said. “So, to have this kind of an amphitheater that is indoor-outdoor that allows it to be all-weather and really state-of-the-art is something that was an opportunity that we really couldn't pass up to begin that negotiation process.”

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