Red Hook industrialist has big plans for Prospect Park’s former Kensington Stables
John Quadrozzi Jr. hopes to bring back historic days of equestrian glory
He makes his living from cement, but he loves horses.
As proud new owner of the historic former Kensington Stables, John Quadrozzi Jr., president of the GBX–Gowanus Bay Terminal on the industrial Red Hook waterfront, has a dream.
Quadrozzi intends to bring back the historic business, located on the edge of Prospect Park, and turn it into a state-of-the-art horse facility, with boarding, equestrian apparel and tack outfitting, a coffee and tea spot and a multiuse room for equine education, entertainment and events.
He also hopes to build seven or eight stories atop the stables, for residential or possibly a self-storage facility, so the equine portion will be able to survive in a low-income environment.
Quadrozzi won the compromised structure, in operation since 1930, at auction in December (with, of all things, a “stalking horse bid”) but didn’t reveal his involvement until the deal closed at the beginning of March. He has since restored the stable’s historic name, Prospect Park Stables.
It may seem unlikely that Red Hook’s industrialist would take an interest in a historic horse stable, but for Quadrozzi, it was meant to be. His lifelong love of horses dates back to his childhood, when he rode regularly. In his 20s, he took formal English riding lessons at Jamaica Bay Riding Academy in Brooklyn and Claremont Riding Academy in Manhattan. His own kids begin taking lessons at the Kensington Stables from the ages of 5 and 6.
Horses are in the family’s blood. Quadrozzi’s grandfather was a farrier (blacksmith), and his father was also a metal smith as well as a welder, steel fabricator and rodeo rider who owned horses, including racehorses.
Quadrozzi’s eldest daughter Xiana, now 19, is currently pursuing an equine degree. Xiana is “fully acclimated to all of the stable’s activities including horse care and stable management,” and is a partner in the new stable and equitation business, Quadrozzi said.
Adding to his feeling that fate had a hand in this development, Quadrozzi discovered that his friend of a dozen years and current operator of the stable, Walker Blankinship, had the same riding instructor as he did at Jamaica Bay Riding Academy.
“One of their best — the late Barbra Smullen,” Quadrozzi said.
It turns out that Blankinship drove Smullen to the stables in the morning while Quadrozzi drove her home in the afternoon, and for the duration of their riding there the two never crossed paths.
The stable has numerous roof replacement and beam repairs that are being addressed, Quadrozzi said. A lot of work has taken place since he bought the facility, “but mostly preparatory which included cleanout of tons of accumulated garbage, removal of unused, unneeded and unsafe items, graffiti removal, sidewalk cleanup, reorganization as well as miscellaneous interim repairs to stalls, bathroom, roof, sidewalks,” he told the Eagle.
“We’ve acquired permits from the Buildings Department and are proceeding with repairs,” he said.
Working with the City
District 39 Councilmember “Brad Lander has been wonderful throughout. He’s helped with Department of Transportation traffic studies to create a safe equestrian route to get to the park,” so that horses don’t have to walk through traffic unnecessarily, Quadrozzi said. Lander is also working with the new owner to develop suitable uses for the building’s upper floors.
“We’re working with the Department of City Planning to make the stable viable and find the right uses to coincide with it,” Quadrozzi said.
Lander connected Quadrozzi with the Prospect Park Alliance to work on sites for children’s pony rides and improvements to the park’s many bridle paths, along with a new, enclosed horse rink.
“That will really help having an indoor arena in Prospect Park; riders won’t be restricted by bad weather,” he said.
Quadrozzi has also been getting important advice from NYPD’s mounted unit.
“This week we met with the top cop of the NYC Mounted Unit, Deputy Inspector Barry Gelbman and his assistant Lt. David Monzon,” Quadrozzi said. “They shared their extensive knowledge on horse care, the challenges of having an urban NYC stable and how to manage an efficient and safe equestrian facility,” he said.
Quadrozzi also toured the Troop B NYPD stables at Mercedes House in Manhattan.
“Troop B sets the standard for an urban NYC stable that we can only hope to mirror,” he said, calling the meeting “invaluable.”
The unit even sent some mounted officers to Pony Club Quadrozzi is running.
“My daughter said when the police officers pulled up the kids started screaming with excitement. They’ve been wonderful,” He added, “Us equestrians have to stick together.”
The re-established Prospect Park Stable operations will continue for a short term under the Kensington name until a new operating entity replaces it called “Brooklyn Equine,” Quadrozzi said. For more information, email [email protected] .
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