WESTBROOK — Happy Wheels is coming to town.

A rough drawing of what the new Happy Wheels will look like. Project manager Patrick Coughlin said the building will not have the garage doors. File photo

The Planning Board on Tuesday unanimously approved plans for the popular roller skating rink at 84 Warren Ave. in Westbrook. Construction is expected to start this summer.

The board also approved a four-story residential and commercial building on Main Street across from Riverbank Park and reviewed a proposal for eight duplexes off Bridge Street.

Happy Wheels at 331 Warren Ave. in Portland closed Dec. 15 after the building, owned by Warren Ave LLC, was sold to developers who had “no interest in keeping the rink.

Derek Fitzgerald, a former manager at the old Happy Wheels, brought his plans to the board in February. The building will be roughly the same size as the old location at 23,000 square feet.

“They will be refining this interior design as we move into the building permit phase,” said Patrick Coughlin, director of the development company St. Germain.

The proposal includes 94 parking spaces with room for overflow parking.   

“I can’t wait to bring my nieces so I can wear my white skates and pom-poms,” Planning Director Jennie Franceschi said.

At one time there were seven Happy Wheels rinks skating centers in Maine and New Hampshire. Happy Wheels sites in South Portland and Scarborough closed in the 1980s and 2000s, respectively. The announcement of the closing of the Portland rink sparked a flood of distressed and nostalgic posts on social media, and many fans flocked to Happy Wheels for a last skate.

A rendering of the proposed development at 630 Main St. Courtesy photo

The board Tuesday also approved a four-story building with office space on the first floor and 12 residential units above at 630 Main St. A two-unit building on the site now would be demolished.

“The applicant is looking to lease (the first floor) as professional office space. If he finds a tenant taking the whole first floor, he will take that,” but it could be divided into three commercial spaces, said BH2M engineer Andrew Morrell, representing applicant Ryan Le.

“Coming in on Main Street, it’s going to look good. The proposal is fashionable and it’s fit for our first big expansion for the city center district,” Planning Board Member Larry McWilliams said.

The board also looked at plans for the new Fawn Woods Way neighborhood off 527 Bridge St., between Lugrin Street and Graham Hill Road. It would include the existing single-family home and eight new duplexes along the private drive. Each unit would have two floors with three bedrooms.

The property owners, who live in the single-family home, said they are selling the surrounding land so they can afford to continue to live there.

“I have a disability and am collecting benefits. That will end when I turn 65 in two years. Without that income we will not be able to afford our house and land,” said Cindy Leach, who has lived in the home for 21 years. “We love Westbrook, our house and neighbors and do not want to lose our home.

“We chose the buyers carefully and are staying involved with the decisions,” she told the board.

Developers held a neighborhood meeting May 12 and said residents were concerned mainly with sight distance, water drainage and traffic.

“We are looking at this carefully,” said St. Gremain’s Coughlin,  who is also directing this project. “We don’t have answers other than we understand the concerns and look forward to working together to come up with solutions to that.”

Board Chairman Rene Daniel, alternate member Nancy Litroscapes and Ward 2 member Jason Frazier said they’d like to see a sidewalk added along the driveway.

A date for a public hearing on Fawn Woods Way and a vote will be scheduled.

A drawing of a duplex at the proposed Fawn Woods Way neighborhood off of Bridge Street. Courtesy photo

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