Pavilion part of broader redevelopment strategy

Architects’ design concepts for the proposed Levitt Pavilion Dayton reflect a free music venue that officials hope can attract large crowds to help rejuvenate downtown’s core.

The outdoor amphitheater — planned for Dave Hall Plaza located adjacent to the Crowne Plaza hotel — seeks to engage and bring together diverse communities and re-activate an underutilized area.

But to achieve those lofty goals, officials said, the pavilion will have to offer a one-of-a-kind experience and public space that draws 1,500-to-2,500 people to each of its 50 free summer concerts while also serving as an urban park.

Supporters have raised about $4.2 million of the $5 million needed to make the pavilion a reality. The plan is at the center of a redevelopment strategy called “The Nine,” which seeks to create a distinct and thriving urban neighborhood.

“In my entire career … I’ve never seen so much headed toward a convergence point as I’m seeing right now,” said John Gower, urban design director at CityWide Development Corp. “This is about the emergence of a vibrant, urban community and every one of these pieces is an important part of that.”

On Monday night, Cleveland-based design firm DLR Group / Westlake Reed Leskosky shared three conceptual renderings of the Levitt pavilion at a public meeting on the top floor of Crowne Plaza, overlooking Dave Hall Plaza.

The firm concluded that the Levitt stage should be constructed on the southwest corner of the property, at Fifth and Main streets, directly across from the Dayton Convention Center.

That decision was based on a variety of factors, including the position of the sun and shading, the backdrop of the stage, acoustics, seating and views of the stage and how people access and enter the site.

The pavilion would double as a public park when it is not in use as a performing arts venue, said Mark Kline, landscape architect and co-founder of MKSK, a Columbus firm.

Hospitality zones near the edges of the site should include tables, seating and other features that encourage people to have lunch or hang out every day of the week, developers said.

The pavilion’s lawn seating would be able to accommodate about 5,000 people. There are opportunities for landscaping elements and other features that children can interact with and play on, designers said.

The three design schemes take different approaches to arranging lawn seating, foot paths, tree placements and hospitality areas. The final design likely will combine the best elements and characteristics of the three schemes.

One diagram connects different amenities on the site using a single winding path.

Another rendering shows about seven oblong grass areas that provide spacing between the seating areas and blurs the edges between the sidewalk and park.

The third rendering has vertical terraces that slope down to the stage.

“From our standpoint, there are elements of each one that are attractive, and we’d like to find ways to integrate the good qualities of all of them,” said Jonathan Kurtz, project designer with DLR Group / Westlake Reed Leskosky.

Dave Hall Plaza has hosted concerts for decades. But they occur intermittently, and the plaza often is empty.

Part of the plan for the Levitt pavilion is to transform the park into a state-of-the-art amphitheater that becomes part of a national network of Levitt free-music venues.

Levitt signature pavilions — Dayton’s is expected to become the ninth when it opens in 2018 — are designed to build community through the shared experience of free music. In addition to hosting concerts, the pavilions are meant to be economic engines that revive underutilized public spaces.

The pavilion is a crucial part of The Nine redevelopment strategy, which focuses on a nine-block area that can become the premier downtown urban neighborhood, city officials said.

The area — stretching from Third Street to Sixth Street, and from St. Clair to Ludlow — consists of about 36 acres, containing 100 parcels and 2 million square feet of built space.

The area encompasses a variety of properties that have benefited from major investments and upgrades, including the Dayton Metro Library. It also contains properties that are targeted for redevelopment, including the Dayton Arcade, the Grant Deneau Tower, the Centre City building and the Fire Blocks District.

The pavilion plans will be refined based on public feedback. Designers polled attendees at Monday’s meeting, using hand-held remote devices, about their visitation habits downtown. They were asked what they value about places such as public parks and performance venues.

Community members also were encouraged to fill out comment cards after studying the three design concepts.

“It’s really going to be informed by a lot of feedback,” said Kurtz, project designer.

The nonprofit Friends of Levitt Pavilion Dayton are working to raise the $5 million needed to construct the music venue and

Levitt pavilions stregthen social connections between community members of all ages and backgrounds, and they

People who attend the free concerts get to interact and

Supporters have described the Levitt pavilion’s location as the living room of downtown, which

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