People know they have been longtime Kansas City residents when they not only remember when the building on the northeast corner of 31st Street and Gillham Road was a Velvet Freeze, but they actually went inside and enjoyed some of the many flavors of ice cream that the place had to offer.
The three-story, 35,471-square-foot structure at 506 E. 31st St. was built in 1925 for the Levy Brothers Meat and Provision Co. and operated as a Velvet Freeze, dispensing ice cream from 1947 to 1985.
It stayed open long enough to enjoy then-President Ronald Reagan proclaiming July as National Ice Cream month in 1984. But the old Velvet Freeze has been closed for 31 years now.
Its decaying days, however, appear to be over.
The building boom of many new apartments and renovated structures around it has swept up the old Velvet Freeze. Construction is to start this fall, and when it is done in the fall of 2017 it will have a ground-floor restaurant with apartment units above.
A fourth story will even be added with six more units, The Kansas City Star reports.
To the north will be construction of a new four-story, U-shaped apartment building on top of a parking garage. El Dorado Inc. architects and Epoch Developments are behind the project.
They are emphasizing the bike friendly nature of the development. Gillham Road and 31st Street are at the top of a fairly challenging hill that climbs from the Crossroads and downtown.
But once at 31st Street, anyone on a bicycle has an easy road to get to the Costco and Home Depot stores near Linwood Boulevard and Gillham Road and shopping along Main Street and in Westport. People can pedal farther to the south to the University of Missouri-Kansas City, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the Art Institute and the Country Club Plaza.
In the immediate area near the old Velvet Freeze is the always busy Filling Station at 2980 McGee Trafficway, and just to the south along 31st Street are several restaurants and bars known at Martini Corner.
There is a lot more room for development to the east along 31st Street, Troost Avenue and Linwood Boulevard.
The growing number of apartment complexes that continue to be built around the old Velvet Freeze provide a lot of young, new urban customers for area businesses.
No doubt, more is to come. May be even an old-fashioned, appealing ice cream parlor like the Velvet Freeze, which used to attract crowds on hot summer days.