Steven Madden threatens to ditch Queens headquarters

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Steve Madden’s shoe company is ready to walk away from its Queens headquarters — and take 400 workers with it — over a proposed affordable-housing development that will step on the company’s parking.

The designer’s eponymous brand uses two buildings on Barnett Avenue in Sunnyside for offices and shoe production and says it relies on a parking lot across the street for employees.

A plan by non-profit developer Phipps Houses calls for rezoning the lot to build a seven-story building with 167 units.

“Without the public parking, Madden would have no feasible way to maintain its Barnett Avenue presence,” Andrew Luskin, a lawyer for the shoe mogul, wrote in a January email to City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer.

Luskin said the company rents about half of the 223 spaces in the lot and many company employees have been driving to work, rather than using public transit, during the pandemic.

He wrote that the company’s more than 400 workers patronize area businesses and that the company donates to local causes.

“Madden urges that the neighborhood would have much to lose if the company were compelled to relocate due to the approval of the proposed housing project and conversion of the Project Site from its present use as a public parking facility,” Luskin wrote.

Andrew Luskin, a lawyer for Steve Madden, says “the neighborhood would have much to lose if the company were compelled to relocate” if affordable housing is built on his company’s parking lot in Sunnyside, Queens.
Andrew Luskin, a lawyer for Steve Madden, says “the neighborhood would have much to lose if the company were compelled to relocate” if affordable housing is built on his company’s parking lot in Sunnyside, Queens.
Tamara Beckwith/NY Post

The project has already drawn opposition from some local residents who claim Phipps Houses, which has a nearby garden apartment complex, is a bad landlord, according to a report.

Luskin insisted to The Post that the shoe company, which has been in Sunnyside for 28 years, wasn’t against affordable housing or Phipps Houses.

“They just want their parking,” he said. “They just want to be able to remain in their place.”

Luskin said Van Bramer’s office put the company in touch with Phipps Houses to try to resolve the issue.

The parking lot where Steven Madden employees use at the company’s Sunnyside, Queens headquarters
The parking lot where Steven Madden employees use at the company’s Sunnyside, Queens headquarters
Lisa R. Kyle

The project advanced Thursday when the City Council approved rezoning for the development.

“We believe the Steve Madden folks did not realize the new development contains a very large parking lot. Of course the priority will be to serve the new building and our residents next door, but based on experience, there is likely to be ample surplus for the general population, including employees of Steve Madden,” a Phipps Houses spokesman said.



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