NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A rare New York City attraction, open for nearly a century, could now be running out of time.
The Kensington horse stables in Brooklyn are bankrupt, and their doors could soon be shut for good. But as CBS2’s Emily Smith reports, city leaders are trying to ride to the rescue.
It’s one of the only places left in New York City where you can take a horseback ride, something many Brooklyn natives don’t take for granted on Caton Place and East 8th Street.
“I love the horses even though I don’t ride,” one woman said.
“That’s why I brought the kids, so they could take a look and say we don’t see this stuff every day,” a man added.
Kensington Stables has been around since 1930. It currently has 32 horses, most of which are available to the general public.
But the stables might not make it. The owner declared bankruptcy in February and put it up for auction.
That’s when city leaders stepped in, helping to call off the bankruptcy sale.
“I used this location years ago, and we would like to allocate our capital resources to help,” Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams said. “And we did that. We switched over $500,000 from the previous administration, gave it to the Department of Parks.”
City Councilman Brad Lander also reallocated more than $1 million for toward the city buying the stables. Others have also chipped in, trying to come close to the $2 million price tag.
Adams said he’s aware there are private buyers interested and had a message for them.
“The problem becomes when you want to take away the stable and build expensive condominiums,” he said.
Owner Walker Blankinship said his father recently died, leaving the family with a tangle of debt, mostly involving taxes. He said he’s open to any buyer, but he does have a wish.
“If we can’t find anyone to buy it as a stable, then obviously it would end up being the highest bidder,” he said.
“So your dream is: The city buys it, you continue to keep your staff here and operate as is?” Smith asked.
“Exactly,” he said.
Elodie Passelaigue brings her daughter to ride regularly and said she’s opposed to the stable being owned by the city, due to politics that can change.
“They might say one year, ‘Yes we want to fund the stable,’ and the next year a new group of people come in and, ‘No we don’t believe in that,” she said. “If it’s closed here, then where are we going to go?”
“It’s one of the only left in the city. We are a whole family of riders, everybody rides, so this is very important to us,” patron Leslie Cockburn said.
For now, Kensington Stables remains what many call a neighborhood treasure, open five days a week.
Adams said it would take several years for a private buyer to get the property rezoned for a high-rise building, saying he would fight it every step of the way.