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Business Spotlight: Wheels West Preserves History While Expanding Car Lot

Work started on the property last month as Wheels West began the process of expansion and remodeling of the dealership. The project should be complete by the end of October or early November.

It’s always a fun surprise when changes appear along Susanville’s Main Street – recently we’ve seen new buildings go up for Lumberjack Restaurant and O’Reilly’s Auto Parts, along with the sudden appearance of new businesses like Little Italy and the Frontier Communications Store. Curious drivers have watched intently for a month now as big changes take place at the Wheels West dealership across from Lassen High.

All that progress is neat and it shows off the fact that our little town is thriving and doing very well, but how do you balance that progress against preserving the town’s historical character?

As our SusanvilleStuff readers know, we love our history pictures, old buildings and remnants of Susanville days gone by. So we applaud the extra effort that Wheels West has made during their expansion to avoid the bulldozer and to simply make a neat old building spring back to life.

The building next to the Wheels West lot was, for more than three decades, a high school hangout known as “The Donut Shop” and “Mill’s Donut Shop.” Over the last twenty years the building has housed everything from an H and R Block franchise to a coffee and sandwich shop.
An architectural pre-viz of the building after the Wheels West remodel.

It’s been fascinating to watch as Wheels West expands their presence along Main Street. In a way the car dealership has peeled back history layer by layer and, thankfully, have preserved a great deal of its character and charm for the future.

“We were thinking about tearing the existing building down and building a new one,“ explains Wheels West owner Jason Rieger, “but I have many fond memories of that building from my childhood when it was the doughnut shop, and I just couldn’t bear to tear it down, it’s a piece of history not only for Susanville, but for me too.”

Instead of demolishing the former doughnut shop, with its clean, simplistic 1940’s architectural features, Rieger decided to completely remodel it inside and out, keeping a well known piece of history while at the same time improving the look of Main Street.

The mural on the side of the building, painted as part of a Senior Project by Lassen High Student Amy Hlusak a decade ago, didn’t fit plans for the building so Rieger had the mural photographed and digitally preserved so as not to lose that piece of Main Street history.

Amy Hlusak’s Senior Project mural carefully preserved.

The entire expansion is scheduled to be finished in late October or early November. In addition to the remodel of the building Wheels West will be removing their old modular offices, re-paving and putting up all-new lights.

Rieger said the finished project will give the entire piece of property a new look. The larger car lot will hold about 30 additional vehicles giving Wheels West room for a selection of over 80 cars and trucks!

Wheels West opened at the location on Main Street in August of 2011. You can check them out online at susanvilleusedcars.com.

 

Jeremy Couso
Jeremy Couso
SusanvilleStuff.com Publisher/Editor
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