L-Kens, Colonie’s iconic ice cream stand that closed for good in 2008 after nearly five decades in business, is facing imminent destruction.
The stand, located on 1565 Central Ave., is set to be demolished and redeveloped by Thomas Burke, owner of Burke Cos. Burke said the site cannot be demolished until there are plans for redevelopment, but he said he is in negotiations with some prospective banks or chain restaurants.
It’s a AAA property on a park corner with a traffic light, it’s hugely desirable, he said. `It’s not a matter of finding tenants; it’s a matter of picking the right ones that are compatible with the area.`
The L-Kens site is approximately 1.2 acres, with a high traffic count, commercial users surrounding it and residential backing. With immediate access to the Northway, Burke said, the property should be considered `first class.`
Burke has developed other local sites including the Dunkin Donuts at the corner of Jupiter Lane and the Starbucks and Moe’s on the corner of Albany-Shaker Road. He is currently working on redeveloping a 3-acre site on 105 Wolf Road, the location of the old Fish Fry restaurant, and replacing part of it with a Chipotle Mexican Grill.
Village of Colonie Historian Kay Walker said the drive-in holds a lot of great memories for her family. She said her son made frequent visits to L-Kens on his bicycle from their home on Locust Park when the store opened in the early 1960’s.
`We went down there all the time when they were kids,` she said. `It was definitely the place to go. We would always stop there to get our hamburgers, french fries and soft ice cream.`
She said she hopes that something good is built in its place, and added that Central Avenue already has several chain restaurants and banks on the strip.
L-Kens was a good place to go during lunch breaks since there were not many places open during work hours, Walker said.
`It’s kind of sad it closed up,` she said. `It always did get good business. I don’t know why it closed.`
Burke said it shouldn’t be a surprise that the building is being demolished, but Village Code Enforcement Officer Randy Rivera said he was shocked to hear the news through the newspapers.
`The project will have to come in front of the Planning Commission and get a project cost,` he said. `They’ll have to come up with final drawing of what they’re planning to do.`
Rivera said he is sure Burke will go through the proper procedures such as providing an asbestos report and seeking a building permit.
Burke, a resident of Delmar, said he enjoys doing business in Colonie.
`Colonie is a great place to do business. It’s centrally located in the Capital District and has all the residential properties and all the commercial properties you would ever want,` he said. `Colonie is on everybody’s short list.`
In regards to the famous L-Kens sign, he said he isn’t sure what he’s going to do with it.
`I haven’t made a final decision on the sign,` he said, `I guess if someone had an interest in it I would consider it. Maybe it stays. I wouldn’t want to speculate on the unknown.“