The old Happy Wheels building on Warren Avenue in Portland could soon become home to a custom automobile repair and restoration business. File photo

PORTLAND — The longtime home of Happy Wheels at 331 Warren Ave. has sat vacant since the popular roller skating center closed in December, but the building may not go unused for much longer.

On behalf of Olds LLC, which purchased the property in November, Michael Charek, of Michael Charek Architects, has requested authorization from the planning department to renovate half of the former skating center into space for Back Bay Customs, a custom automobile shop located at 50 Allen Ave. The authorization would exempt the project from a full or partial site plan review by the planning board. The other half of the building would be available for lease through The Durham Group.

“The work to be done in the facility will consist of restoring and rebranding cars and light trucks from the frame through drivetrain and body to finished vehicle,” Charek said in a letter to Director of Planning and Urban Development Christine Grimando.

The proposal, Charek said in his letter, would not require a building expansion and all work would be internal except for the installation of three garage doors facing the parking lot.

The planning department is still reviewing the administrative authorization request and is asking the applicant for additional information, something Grimando said is “not uncommon in the early stages of review.”

Paul G. White, who now owns the building, said he was not ready to discuss specific plans until the city’s review was completed.

“I expect we’ll have more details to share in the coming weeks,” Grimando said.

Meanwhile, a former manager at Happy Wheels is working on a proposal to revive the skating venue at a Warren Avenue property in Westbrook.

Derek Fitzgerald brought his proposal to locate Happy Wheels into a 23,100 square foot building at 84 Warren Ave. to the Westbrook Planning Board March 3.

Fitzgerald hopes to have final plans to the Planning Board in May so construction could begin by summer.

“If all things go well, we are hoping to open our doors just in time for the busy season in the fall,” he said.

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