Facing foreclosure and virtually no business, a once-thriving horse stable on Pelham Parkway could finally be hanging up its spurs.
It will be auctioned off come November.
The stable’s horses, including the copper-haired steed known as Bronco, could now gallop into an uncertain future if a bidder takes over ownership of the prime real estate.
Potential buyers will head to Bronx County Courthouse on Nov. 4th at 2 p.m., where court-appointed referee Edmond Pryor will sell off the land.
A Bronx Supreme Court judge ordered the auction after stable owners M.O.L. Realty Inc. and Buster Marengo defaulted on nearly $20,000 in back taxes.
Bank of New York Mellon currently holds the tax lien, though owners can still retain ownership if they can come up with 10-18% of the lien amount. The current owners, however, still have to deal with a mountain of other debts that include utility and fines.
Once the deed is tranferred, new owners can bulldoze, restore or sell the property altogether.
Marengo, who declined to comment, will still have legal custody of the horses, who are considered his personal property. Marengo has vowed in published reports to keep ownership of the horses, though he had at one point spoken to owners for the Pelham Bit stables to take ownership.
It’s unclear why Marengo has held on to the property for so long, despite lack of business and protests from legal animal activists citing alleged abuse.
A contingent of volunteers had tried to help Marengo, but he eventually turned them off.
“He has no business sense and no social skills,” said Gene DeFrancis, one of the volunteers who led an effort to save the stables. “Every person I had come to help him left quickly because they couldn’t work with Buster.”
To many, the stables are a link to a bygone era in the leafy neighborhood, where rural landscapes were once the norm.
The stables, at the far end of Pelham Parkway South near the Hutchinson River Parkway, still feature an enormous, green and white “House Rides” sign within the fenced-in property.
Back then, the stables were known as Cy’s Pelham Parkway Riding Academy, teaching horseback riding lessons to locals.
“It was very special,” said Joanne Rubino Russo, local Community Board 11 member and nearby neighbor. “You saw guys with cowboy hats riding down the bridle path.”
The paths were considered an attractive feature for horse riders until they were removed through a CB 11 mandate in the mid-2000s, causing a drop in business.
In the last few years, the property fell into decay, with mounds of manure, a crumbled facade and rustic fence surroumding the property.
It drew the ire of animal rights activists, suspecting the horses were still housed in the unsafe barn, particularly Bronco, mistakenly known as Rusty, who at one point became the face for animal cruelty despite an ASPCA inspection that cleared the horse owners of wrongdoing.
Protestors, largely outraged over the two-story barn’s unstable condition, pressured the city Building’s Department to review the structure. It was later deemed unsafe. Facing heavy fines, Marengo then housed the horses in a cramped trailer in the back of the stable. Marengo, considered a recluse, was known to exercise Bronco at night.
DOB’s findings also inspired a bill by Sen. Jeff Klein that would remove animals from any dwelling pegged as condemned.
Several pro-Marengo activists had once speculated the stables were blocking the development of a 91-unit apartment building dubbed Pelham Parkway Towers. The project, however, fell flat as builder MJM Construction Services LLC, came short on the financing.