This deal fell off the horse.
The bankrupt owners of Kensington Stables will not sell the barn to the city, instead choosing to seek a more profitable deal at auction that could potentially spell the end of horseback riding in Prospect Park, according to their lawyer, who claimed the owners need to pay their creditors.
“My client has an obligation to pay her creditors, so she understands that selling the property at the best price at this point is in her best interest,” said Marc Yaverbaum.
The stables on Caton Place between E. Eighth Street and Coney Island Avenue are owned by the Blankenship family, with son Walker Blankenship managing their operations under his mother, who actually owns them.
The family planned to relieve debts accrued by Blankenship’s now-deceased father by selling the property to the city’s parks department, which would ensure it remained open to the community as a public riding facility. The long-time owners hoped to continue managing the barn by entering a bidding process that they assumed would take about a year, during which they were prepared to pay for the horses’ care — including $250,000 for food alone — according to the attorney.
But the deal crumbled after the family realized it could take as many as three years for a manager to be selected, which would require them to pay upwards of $1 million on horse care while the city determined the winning bid. Those expenses would be in addition to barn renovations required by whomever got the management contract, and the total sum became too costly for the cash-strapped family, Yaverbaum said.
“Financially it wasn’t going to work,” Yaverbaum said. “The debtor was not ready to spend in excess of $1 million to maintain the horses for three years, and then go into the facility and fix up the stables.”
The Blankenships now plan to bring the facility to auction in bankruptcy court on Nov. 8, although they remain in negotiations with other buyers, the lawyer said.
The parks department’s offer, meanwhile, is still on the table, according to a spokeswoman.
“Parks is disappointed in the outcome of this deal, given that we had a clear understanding with the owner to bring the stables under city ownership,” said Maeri Ferguson. “We want them to remain a useful public amenity and will continue to work toward that goal.”
Kensington Stables’ owners have trotted it toward the auction block before as part of the ongoing bankruptcy sale.
A February auction was called off at the last minute when a dark-horse buyer swooped in with an offer to buy the facility and develop it into a mixed-use residential building that preserved the stables.
That auction was called off following news that the Blankenships and the city were getting close to the deal that was abandoned this week.
Blankenship did not return a request for comment by press time.