And they’re off!
The race to purchase the beleaguered Kensington Stables will head to the auction block unless a deal with beloved barn’s bankrupt owner is hammered out quickly enough to satisfy a judge who says creditors must be paid fast, according to the horse house’s manager.
“The judge is getting angry and something has to get done ASAP,” said Walker Blankenship, who manages Kensington Stables on behalf of its owner, his mother. “We’re trying to avoid that, but we’re under the gun.”
The city and others wishing to purchasing the dilapidated barn have until June 22 to get in the saddle or be forced to make a run for the roses with the highest bidder in bankruptcy court Downtown, according to real estate agent Marc Yaverbaum, who is managing the stables’ sale.
The Parks Department is willing to pony up an undisclosed amount that included $1.5 million appropriated by Councilman Brad Lander (D–Park Slope) and Borough President Adams to purchase the barn, then hire a contractor who’ll offer guided horseback tours of Prospect Park.
Walker Blankenship, who plans to bid to continue operating the stables after it is acquired by the city, giving his family a chance to profit from the sale of the business and land, hasn’t accepted that offer yet.
The contract will likely require it new operator invest money in the barn, which is in dire need of renovations according to the results of a 2013 engineering study, and city negotiators have refused to divulge exactly how much bid winners will be required to pay, Blankenship said.
“If I’m going to fix something, I need money for that. If I want to move the horses, I need money for that,” said Blankenship. “The city has this list of things they want, I need money to do it, and they won’t discuss any details.”
This is the second time the Blankenship’s Caton Place barn headed to the auction block since Walker Blankenship’s father fell behind on tax payments, forcing his widow to hawk her barn to pay the debts, according to the stables’ manager.
The last auction was scheduled for February but was aborted when a dark-horse buyer swooped in and offered to purchase the property, promising to build a new stable as part of a mixed-use residential development similar to the luxury Mercedes House in Manhattan, which became home to steeds serving in the police department’s mounted unit in 2011.
But that deal never happened.
Well-heeled developers with hopes of turning the Windsor Terrace property into luxury condos may steer clear of the auction thanks to the area’s industrial zone, which prohibits houseing. And Councilman Brad Lander [D–Park Slope] has already kicked up a fuss over the prospect of losing Greater Park Slope’s only public horse riding facility, vowing to oppose any changes to the property’s zoning unless developers promised to keep the stables.