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Pony up: Bankrupt Kensington Stables is for sale

Un-stable situation: The Kensington Stables near Prospect Park filed for bankruptcy last year, and the owners are in the process of selling off the Caton Place property.
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Hold your horses!

Kensington Stables — the only place where Brooklynites can rent a stallion to gallop through Prospect Park — is being flogged off in a bankruptcy sale, and the local councilman is getting on his high horse by vowing to block any residential development on the site unless local jockeys can stay in the saddle.

“I’m chomping at the bit to preserve horses in the park,” said Councilman Brad Lander (D–Kensington).

But the property’s broker says the neigh-saying pol may be putting the cart before the horse — the cash-strapped stable’s Caton Place barn was slated to go on the block last Thursday with a starting price of $2 million, but now a dark-horse potential buyer willing to preserve the pony palace has entered the fray, and the auction is off until further notice.

“There’s no bid deadlines, no auction dates, we’re just focusing right now on this interested party,” said Marc Yaverbaum of MYC and Associates, who is managing the stable sale.

The business’s long-time owner died five years ago but had failed to keep up with property taxes in his final years, and now his widow now selling the stables to pay off the debts, according to their son.

“In the end, and things got away from him,” said Walker Blankinship, who manages the stables.

The multi-million-dollar price-tag on the property, along with advertising material marketing the property as a “redevelopm­ent opportunity,” indicates a buyer will seek to demolish the horse hub and erect housing in its place, Lander says, so he trotted out a letter to Yaverbaum declaring his intentions to thwart any attempts to rezone the industrial land unless the developer commits to preserving the stables in some form.

“The community strongly supports the preservation of a horse stable at this location,” Lander wrote to Yaverbaum. “Bidders should be clear about this expectation.”

The entire Council votes on rezonings, but members typically vote in line with the local rep, so Lander holds the reins of power.

Lander bucked against suggestions that he’d be saddling any buyer with a business that has proven unprofitable in the area, claiming that horse rentals are a stable business.

“There’s no doubt it’s manageable, there’s an appetite for riding,” he said. “It doesn’t pay the same amount as condos, but it’s perfectly possible to operate a successful stable.”

Blankinship agrees, of course, and says Lander’s threats to derail horse-averse developers don’t worry him while negotiations with the mystery buyer stay on track, although he acknowledged it could stop others from ponying up if they go belly up.

“That could discourage some buyers,” he said.

The 30 horses at Kensington Stables work for a living, and if they’re unable to stay in their park-side accommodations, Blankinship says he’ll be forced to turn to his friends in the horse-rescue industry to adopt them — although that will likely leave other steeds stuck in the glue business.

“My horses would be fine, but that means other horses would go to the slaughter,” he said.

Fortunately, human-horse co-habitation isn’t unheard of New York’s real-estate industry — the Police Department moved about a dozen horses into a luxury apartment building on the distant isle of Manhattan in 2011.

The smell of hay and manure is even a draw for some — in 2008, neighbors in the seven blocks around the stables made an unsuccessful bid to rename the area as “Stable Brooklyn.”

But Lander thinks the situation is still un-stable — Yaverbaum won’t reveal any details about the mystery shopper and the state of his negotiations with them, and any redevelopment will still likely require the stables to close or relocate during construction.

“I’d like to learn more, what it means if the stable’s closed down, and how long would that be,” the legislator said. “There’s a lot of issues to be considered.”

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018: Updated with commets straight from the horse's mouth — which is to say, from the stable's manager.
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Reasonable discourse

Carolina Salguero from Carroll Gardens/Red Hook says:
When I was a kid in the 1960s and living in what is now called Carroll Gardens, I learned to ride at that stable. That opened up many worlds to me. It would be very sad/bad to have that stable close and to have future generations lose the option of horseback riding in Prospect Park.
Feb. 21, 2017, 11:53 am
Ellie from Red Hook says:
Next time you cover this story, please don't let those equine metaphors run away with you. After a while it's like beating a dead horse, and the cutesy writing is an insult to the seriousness of the issues. Kindly do your research, both legal and equine, as to why there would be no stallion to gallop through Prospect Park— unless you don't want those pesky facts to get in the way of such prancing prose.
Feb. 21, 2017, 3:41 pm
Mr. Ed from Television says:
Keep the prancing prose and never mind the naaaaaaay-sayers, Wilbur.
Feb. 21, 2017, 5:28 pm
Dawn from Park Slope says:
I live less than a block away, and these horses are not properly taken care of — and that’s not solely because of the current owners. This space is not big enough for a horse stable. This stable even has an exemption from the city so the horses’ stalls are smaller than allowed by ordinance, meaning these horses don’t even have enough room to turn around. I hope these horses get to go live a better life somewhere outside of NYC, and this stable is sold in bankruptcy and demolished.
Feb. 22, 2017, 5:16 pm
Art Goldberg from Now Tyler Hill Pa says:
Jumping Hall of Fame jump rider, Benny OMeara began here in B'klyn His horses were on the Olympic team in the 1960's. He is also the brother of Bernie's Sanders' wife Jane. Please contact me
Art Goldberg 570-224-0052 agoldber@ptd.net
Feb. 23, 2017, 11:06 am
Sunrise from Park Slope says:
While Dawn makes it seem gloomy, perhaps focusing on a new Sunrise for the stable is a more intelligent approach.

Firstly, it's always those less learned that typically revert to negativity to compensate for their lack of understanding. Like stall size for example; straight stalls as they are correctly called (not "smaller than allowed by ordinance") are a common standard, and for many horses, create a more socially stable environment for these social critters.

Nonetheless, the stable has just as many box stalls (where horses can turn around) than straight stalls. Further, the stable is more than adequate to be reconfigured to handle all box stalls and more of them than the stable has presently combined of both. It's all a design choice and such that needs to be suited to the future use of the stable.

More importantly, these horses while not in the most ascetic of stables, don't see what humans see nor care, but rather are cared for and loved far more than most. At Kensington Stables, no animal is ever over worked for profit and all are treated like pets. Also, as any knowledgeable animal person knows, moving them from their home is the most traumatic thing you could do to them.

Let's keep the little stable going and help make it a staple stable for our community for future generations to embrace and enjoy.

As it's the last one, we have a duty to do what ever is necessary to preserve it, including abating the taxes like we do for so many institutions in NYC.
Feb. 24, 2017, 1:06 am
Joe from Greenpoint says:
Can we get a bull ring? It could be in honor of some of our immigrant communities, a real FU to Trump. And cheaper beef in the city.
Feb. 24, 2017, 3:28 pm
Angela from Park Slope says:
I agree, that cutesy writing detracts from the sad fact that these people are losing their business and as a parent of a child who went to camp there--we can attest that the horses were loved by all.
March 1, 2017, 2:43 pm

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