Stable-ized! Kensington Stables owners working on deal to sell barn to city

Saved: The owners of Kensington Stables, which was set to go to auction on June 22, instead are working out a deal with the city to purchase the barn, which will continue to operate as a public horseback riding facility once the negotiations complete.
Photo by Jordan Rathkopf

They’re riding high!

The Parks Department is hammering out a deal to buy Kensington Stables, which it will continue to operate as a public horseback riding amenity for Brooklyn equestrians, according to a councilman who secured funding for the city to purchase the privately-owned facility.

“I’m thrilled about this next step in the city’s effort to buy Kensington Stables and preserve horseback riding in Prospect Park for many years to come,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Kensington). “This would be a great win for our community, and I’m very hopeful we can make it work.”

The Blankenship family — which has run the Caton Place barn between E. Eighth Street and Coney Island Avenue as a horse stable for decades — is selling it to satisfy outstanding debts after manager Walter Blankenship’s father failed to keep up with property tax payments in the years before he died.

The barn was first set to go to auction in February, but a potential unnamed buyer postponed it from hitting the block. Multiple suitors approached the Blankenships after that — including the city — and a judge ordered the sale head to auction again on June 22, effectively setting a finish line for the hotly contested race.

But the Blankenships decided to sell the barn to the city at well below market value instead, to insure it remains in the horse business, according to the family’s real estate agent.

“It’s a good thing for the city, for the community, for Prospect Park — and the creditors,” said Marc Yaverbaum. “The only people who lose out are my clients.”

Judge Elizabeth Stong approved the liquidation plan in Federal Bankruptcy Court on Tuesday, Yaverbaum said, and while the family has not settled on a final price with the Parks Department, he said it stands to lose up to $1 million by selling to the city instead of a private buyer.

The realtor said the deal is not a sure thing yet, but that it seems a safe bet at this stage, despite negotiation points in addition to the purchase price that he refused to discuss.

“At this point I’m pretty confident,” he said.

The city — if and when it takes possession of the stables — will select an operator through a competitive bidding process, which Blankenship said he plans to enter, despite a requirement that the new operator invest in renovating the barn after a 2013 engineering study found it in serious need of repair.

Blankenship could not be reached for comment before deadline.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

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