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New plans for a 112-unit condominium complex to replace the shuttered Coachman’s Dinner & Pancake House on State Street include ample space for a relaunched version of the popular eatery, its owner confirmed Monday.
But whether that means a return of the vintage Salt Lake City restaurant’s well-known stacked hotcakes, fried chicken and Greek salads is unclear, longtime proprietor Mike Nikols said.
“That was the intent; let’s put it that way,” Nikols said of reopening Coachman’s at 1301 S. State St., which closed its doors in April. “I just can’t say that it’s 100%.”
The city agreed to rezone the property earlier this year. Under a newly created company called Reality Development, Nikols has since submitted designs for a six-story residential, office and retail project anchored on that southeast corner of State Street and 1300 South and extending south along State.
News that Coachman’s was ceasing operations to make way for redevelopment — a farewell delivered through the restaurant’s iconic sign on State Street — drew an outpouring of support from longtime customers, cramming the cozy diner with reminiscing patrons in its final days.
But as rapidly as Utah’s capital is now growing, Nikols said, once the 60-year-old diner and an adjacent two-story office building get demolished and the new residential complex is built, “that’ll be a year and a half at least. People’s lives change, and you never know what’s going to happen.”
Coachman Mixed Use, as the new condo project has been dubbed, will offer less-expensive one- and two-bedroom condos for sale with structured parking along with ground floor retail spaces and second-story offices at that prominent corner, according to plans filed at City Hall.
It’s part of an ongoing building boom across the city, including a surge in residential construction often replacing old commercial structures.
Coachman’s owner said the condo project is “not money-motivated” and aims to offer an option of “affordable ownership for people who are just starting off in life.”
He also hopes the approach will foster additional long-term investment in the surrounding neighborhood along State Street, which is targeted by city officials for redevelopment.
“This could be very positive and a way to create something for the community,” Nikols said. “I’m not looking to make a fortune off these places. I just want to make a profit and help people as well.
“It’s going to be neat,” he added.
His plans also designate a big ground floor corner space, where the old eatery stands, for a new “Coachman Restaurant.” There is talk, too, Nikols said, of salvaging and reusing the iconic tilted lamplight sign, which was designed by Nikols’ father, longtime restaurateur John Nikols, and remains a familiar neighborhood landmark.
Discussions with historic preservationists have raised the prospect of potentially cutting the sign into pieces and embedding those in the new construction.
“We’re going to see if it can be done,” Nikols said.
The Salt Lake City Council unanimously agreed to his request for a rezone of the 1.77 acres beneath Coachman’s and adjacent offices in March, shifting from commercial use to one more amenable to mixing land uses and buildings taller than four stories.
Nikols has applied to treat the project as a planned development, which, if approved, would give him more latitude in making the project compatible with nearby properties, he said. His latest designs also require approval by city planners because the building’s facade along State Street appears to extend beyond a city limit of 200 feet.
The city’s Redevelopment Agency, meanwhile, has created a new project area covering portions of land on either side of State Street between 300 South and 2100 South — a move designed to lure additional development with the use of tax incentives and other financial tools.