Porter’s Place closes, owner says Lehi City won’t repair sewer

Donna Barnes | Lehi Free Press

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One of Lehi’s iconic businesses has closed its doors. Porters Place, a local western style eatery has been in business for 32 years. The restaurant has been forced to cease operation due to Lehi City’s reluctance to repair sewer pipes under the building.

On December 26, Robert Trepanier, owner of Porters Place, opened his business only to find that the sewer system was not working. Trepanier called Lehi City, owner of the building, to get someone to come and look at the problem. According to Trepanier, “Lehi was very cooperative in the beginning.” Marlin Eldridge, Lehi City Economic Development Director, reported, “Everything is rotted out. It will cost around $37,000 to repair the sewer system and the City Council is leaning against not fixing it.”

Work was stalled until after Lehi City Council meeting Tuesday, Jan. 2. In a closed session, the Council did not authorize repair of the sewer line. Trepanier was told on Wednesday that the city would bring in structural engineers to determine the viability of repairing the building and bringing it up to code.

“Being closed for this long has pretty much killed my business,” said Trepanier. “The City is looking at having individuals come up with proposals for the property and then they will decide what would be the best proposal. I personally believe they would like to see it demolished.”

According to Cameron Boyle, Lehi Assistant to the City Administrator, “Porter’s Place is a tough situation. We recognize the historic value that the restaurant has played in our community and know that it is sentimental for many. However, the cost of repairs is so great that we have to consider how to best manage taxpayer dollars. Regardless of what the outcome may be, we are focused on maintaining a historic feel to Main Street.”

Lehi City bought Porters Place in 2008. Trepanier was going to relocate his business to the Point of the Mountain. When the economy slumped, Trepanier decided to halt the construction of his new business. He asked Lehi City if he could buy back his property and Lehi declined to sell. Trepanier has leased the property from Lehi City since 2009.

When asked what his plans are, Trepanier replied, “I don’t know. I have no income coming in and I have to support my family. There is no concern for the little guy anymore.”

20 COMMENTS

  1. Sounds like Lehi is getting the typical greedy pockets that many cities get. Hopefully they won’t get the outrageous irrigation water bills that Saratoga springs residents are facing. All due to their own stupidity in not keeping the system upgraded as they continued to allow more developers in.

    • Why is it greet for a landlord to weigh cost and building viability. Lehi isn’t being greedy,they are being fiscally responsible with the taxpayers money. Lehi’s master plan and dedication to governing responsibly is far different than its next door neighbor’s.

      • City shouldn’t be in the business of owning properties like this in the first place. It was misuse of taxpayer dollars to buy it, and then not to maintain it??, it becomes worth even less and a bigger waste of taxpayer dollars. The City Council are obviously not very responsible landlords or stewards of the peoples money.

  2. Porter’s Place really does contribute to the historical significance of Lehi’s Main Street. I remember 30-40 years ago the high interest levels of our out-of-town friends, as well as locals to the unique nature of the Porter’s Place menu, and of course, the history. I hear lots of comments about our city needing more “nice, sit-down” restaurants, in addition to the many franchised ones that have developed over the past decade or so. I would encourage the City Council to find the BEST way to revitalize this location and business in partnership with a culinary entrepreneur. Surely the right businessperson(s) would do well there and bring additional vitality to our historical downtown area.

  3. It would be awesome to see Lehi City step up and preserve this building considering there are 2 historic blocks on main street. Porter’s Place is at the beginning of those buildings heading west. I really believe our leaders have the fortitude and ability. It will be exciting to see if the new Mayor and council rise to the challenge!

  4. Very dissapointing that Lehi City will not step up with what is and has been a part of the city’s history and spirit. When cities lose their identity through poor decisions like this in a way the spirit of what made the city goes with it. One of the best most economical decisions with any existing building is to reuse and adapt them to maintain the city image while maintaining flexibility for new tenants…

  5. Oh course the city has decided to tear down another historic buillding just to build a building for the police dept which doesnt need a new bldg. Quit destroying lehis heritage.

  6. This is ridiculous. Porters place is a classic. If it’s taxpayers dollars that would be fixing it then great! At least my tax dollars will be going to something I agree with! Definitely voting against Johnson in the next election. And most of the city council…

  7. If Lehi is “focused on maintaining a historic feel to Main Street” then why not preserve the most iconic historical building and business in all of Lehi? Lehi loses so much of its hometown charm with this closing. Building something that has a historic “feel” doesn’t preserve history. If I still lived in the area I would start a petition to save Peter’s Place.

    It’s a shame really.

  8. The city didn’t do anything to this business owner. There’s inherent risk in using a historic building like this, for example old pipes. Is that why he was going to relocate in 2008? This sewage system and who knows what else rotted out for years under Trepanier’s watch. I hope this historic building stays up and that a good steward can get value out of it, just not with my tax dollars.

    • Most agree building and area needs restoration. Primary now would be health concerns. This building is in need of repairs. Who pays ?? Porter’s present mgmt. should be paid out by citizens or Lehi City and new Mgmt. Site needs new mgmt. and brought up to code. Again public health and safety are at hand big time. Law suit?? Preserve and improve old town Lehi. Can be done with smart Mgmt. and foresight.

  9. There is more going on here than just the sewer. The owner of Porters Place would like you to believe it’s just that, but there is more to the issue than just the sewers. Yes, that is a problem, but the overall health of the building is in question, which falls on the owner not on the city.

  10. So if you want to stay in Lehi and be historical why not move down the street to old Overland Stage/Railroad hotel on the west end of main St. Carl Mellor spent a lot of time and money restoring that building. Not sure what it is being used for now.

  11. I would like to know if there has been any effort to get financing to make the repairs which can be SHARED by the landlord and the tenent via a viable increase in rent. I believe that Porter’s Place has some value to the community and Mr Trapanier has since 1986 operated it successfully. I am skeptical that one could not find someone to replace a 4 inch sewer line over approximately 45 feet even with required concrete cutting for much less than $37,000… The structure is not delapidated neither would the replacement of a few yards of water line with PEX be prohibitively expensive. I have found that these decisions are only a pretext for other decisions which have been made to expand our city government’s footprint. I believe a line can be installed and the restaurant reopened if both parties agree to facilitate the repair with something given by both sides.. the RENT on the building could pay for the upgrade in a reasonable amount of time….even sooner with a slight increase. As a former owner of Porter’s Place, I am fully aware of the place it has in the city’s history and the service such locations can provide to its citizens. I believe there can be a solution if both parties still want the restaurant more than another parking lot where an ongoing business once sat. Also I don’t think it helps for either party to vilify the other…The terms have to make financial sense for both parties. Which leads to one more question ..what is the CITY doing… being in the LANDLORD business? Surely the acquisition of land for some other city project doesn’t need to be at the expense of what little “Historic Downtown” is left on Main Street…

  12. I thought Porter’s place had been in operation since the early ’70s or even before. Sad to see it go. We do need more local sit down eateries. Franchise places do nothing to reflect the character of the people and places where they are located.

  13. You’ll notice that the city counsel hasn’t made the same type of comments about all of the new buildings going in around the Thanksgiving Point area. I live off 1200 West and they continue to issue building permits without regard to anything but the tax dollars coming in.

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