Stables' foreclosure auction postponed

Owner Alex Jacobson walks the grounds of Lakewood Owner Alex Jacobson walks the grounds of Lakewood Stables in West Hempstead. He is trying to resuscitate the struggling operation. (March 14, 2011) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

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Lakewood Stables in West Hempstead was set for a foreclosure auction Tuesday, but it's been postponed as the owner tries to turn the business around and into a "first-class equestrian center."

Owner Alex Jacobson said he and Maspeth Federal Savings & Loan have been renegotiating loan terms while he pursues two avenues to profitability -- making the seasonal operation year round and pushing a state bill to cut what he says is the stable's $70,000 tax bill.

"We have private funds available to rebuild the facilities and reinstate the loan," he said. "We're going to be out of foreclosure shortly and building this new equestrian center."

A court judgment of foreclosure was signed in December on a $1-million mortgage, which includes penalties and other fees, according to Long Island Profiles, a foreclosure data provider.

The stables have been there for about 85 years and offer therapeutic programs for autistic children and trail rides at the next-door Hempstead Lake State Park, among other services.

Jacobson said the operation wasn't making money even before he purchased it in 2006.

It's off season now and no one's in the outdoor arena, but a proposed $2-million equestrian center would change that. Plans call for a climate-controlled indoor arena, a retail shop, clubhouse and solar and geothermal energy.

Demolition permits for barns and fences were recently approved, Jacobson said.

Besides the disadvantage of being seasonal, the two-acre stable has been caught in a tax and zoning dilemma.

The property is zoned commercial, which carries higher taxes, but to qualify for tax breaks under agricultural use, state law requires the property to be at least five acres. Stables are covered by state agriculture laws.

In the new legislative session, Sen. Kemp Hannon (R-Garden City) last month reintroduced a bill that would apply primarily to Lakewood Stables. It calls for an exception to the law for agricultural properties that are at least one acre in Hempstead Town.

Arthur Kremer, Jacobson's lobbyist and a former assemblyman from Long Beach, said the bill would cut Lakewood's taxes by $35,000 a year.

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