The city isn’t horsing around.
Department of Buildings officials slapped Prospect Park’s lone horse barn, Kensington Stables, with a full and immediate vacate order following a Dec. 15 inspection that found the building’s roof partially collapsed, among other violations.
But the stables’ manager, Walker Blankenship, said he’s keeping his horses under the dilapidated roof as he works to quickly renovate the crumbling property with the help of his new partner, Red Hook concrete magnate John Quadrozzi, Jr. — whom the broker that managed the barn’s sale, Marc Yaverbaum, confirmed is the dark-horse buyer who purchased the property at auction last month — even though a judge has yet to formally sign off on the sale.
“We’re speeding things up and getting permits, rather than waiting for formalities,” Blankenship said. “I can’t be here, but I really can’t move [the horses].”
City inspectors descended on the Caton Place barn owned by Blankenship’s mother in response to a 311 complaint, and issued the vacate order after finding its partially collapsed roof, “significantly deteriorated” ceiling joists throughout the building, and a wall jutting into the sidewalk at a 30-degree angle, according to a Department of Buildings report.
The decree requires all occupants to leave immediately, according to agency spokesman Joseph Soldevere, who said that vacate orders are only issued in response to a “significant safety hazard.”
But Blankenship said he doesn’t have the money or resources to relocate his horses, and that he’s relying on support from his new business partner — who he said agreed to keep the facility and its current operators in the riding business for at least five years as part of his purchase deal — to quickly remediate the barn’s structural issues before further penalties are issued.
“The buyer is happy to help us with the buildings department,” said Blankenship, who refused to name Quadrozzi as the buyer despite his broker’s admission.
Quadrozzi also refused to acknowledge he purchased the stables, saying the deal is not finalized and citing an unspecified confidentiality agreement. But a Bankruptcy Court plan-of-reorganization document described the “purchaser” as Quadrozzi Urban Enterprises.
The concrete magnate did admit he is helping Blankenship repair the facility, and said he would try to keep the building as a working barn for “as long as possible.”
Quadrozzi’s interest in the property stems from a lifelong love for all things equine: his grandfather was a blacksmith who worked with horses and his father owned stables in Queens, he said. And he even passed his passion on to his daughter, who frequently rides animals from Kensington Stables, Quadrozzi said.
“We came from horses. My grandfather was a blacksmith, my father grew up around horses, and he brought us up around horses,” he said.
Quadrozzi — who led an effort to save a historic cruise liner by turning it into a Red Hook entertainment center before he rode in to save the stables — already contracted an engineer to inspect the property and draw up new plans, which the partners plan on filing permits for next week, Blankenship said.
And the buildings-department spokesman said the agency would be happy to expedite the repair permits and future inspections required to lift the vacate order, but until those are issued and completed, the city will fully enforce the temporary-eviction notice and send agents to the site in the near future to ensure compliance.