You are reading

Steve Madden, Which Employs 400, Threatens to Leave Sunnyside if Phipps Development Proceeds

Steve Madden Office at 52-16 Barnett Avenue (Google Maps)

March 9, 2021 By Christian Murray

The fashion shoe company Steve Madden is threatening to leave Sunnyside if the seven story, 167-unit building development planned by Phipps Houses on Barnett Avenue goes up.

Steve Madden, which penned a letter to Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer Jan. 14, said that it employs more than 400 people at its 52-16 Barnett Ave. location and it would be forced to relocate if the Phipps development moves forward.

The company says that it rents 120 spaces on the 220-space parking lot where the development is proposed to go. The spaces are used by its personnel and are rented from Phipps. Without the parking spaces for employees, it says it would have to leave.

“Without the public parking lot, Madden will have no reasonable way to maintain its Barnett Avenue presence,” the letter reads.

The letter also notes that its employees help bolster the local economy by patronizing local merchants and eateries.

“In short, Madden and its employees provide substantial economic support for the local community and its retail businesses,” the letter reads.

Phipps needs to get its Barnett Avenue property rezoned in order to develop the site. The application currently rests in the hands of the City Council, having been approved by Community Board 2, the Queens Borough President and the City Planning Commission.

Van Bramer issued a public statement today announcing his support for the project, citing the need for affordable and low-cost housing. He did not address Steve Madden’s concerns in his statement and did not comment for this story.

Steve Madden, however, has done little in the way of outreach to make its concerns known other than the solitary letter to Van Bramer. It did not reach out to Community Board 2 nor did it speak to Queens Borough President Donovan Richards or the City Planning Commission.

The Jan. 14 letter to Van Bramer was also not released publicly but surfaced on social media via the Facebook page Small Town Confidential.

The Queens Post called the attorney representing Steve Madden whose name appeared on the letter. The attorney–Andrew Luskin, of the firm McLaughlin & Stern–confirmed that he wrote it and said the issue was real.

Luskin said that the letter is not just bluster but the issue is a real concern. “They need the parking,” he said.

But Luskin said that the only step taken by Steve Madden to convey its concerns was the letter sent to Van Bramer on Jan. 14. He said as of March 8 he is still waiting for a response.

Luskin, however, said that he had not followed up on the letter. The letter was also written after Community Board 2 voted to approve it and Borough President Richards signed off on the project.

Rendering of Phipps’ current plan for 50-25 Barnett Ave.

Adam Weinstein, CEO and president of Phipps Houses, told the Queens Post yesterday that Steve Madden had not been in contact with him about its parking concerns.

Weinstein said that the new building would contain parking that Steve Madden employees could potentially use.

He said that the new building comes with 170 attended spaces, with 59 set aside for new residents and about 20 for the residents of the existing Phipps Garden Apartments on 39th Avenue who currently use the parking lot. He said that 91 spaces would be available to the public.

“While we’re not committing the operator [of the parking lot] to provide parking to anyone but our own residents, it would seem there’s capacity for members of the public including the Madden folks,” Weinstein said.

Additionally, the 59 spaces set aside for the residents may not be fully utilized–with some potentially available to the public, Weinstein said.

Weinstein said that Steve Madden is not currently using 120 parking spaces on the empty lot–a number cited in the letter. He said the company has an agreement to use about 60 to 80 parking spaces.

“They may have once been licensed [by the parking operator] for that many, but not now.”

Luskin did not expressly say why Steve Madden did not do more outreach to convey its concerns.

He did say that he listened in on the Nov. 18 public hearing held by Community Board 2 on the project but did not speak.

He said that a representative of Steve Madden joined the Dec. 3 online meeting when Community Board 2 voted to approve the plan but was unable to speak. The representative was not blocked by the board in any way, he said, just that they were unable to get through.

He said the company isn’t tapped into local politics so that can partly explain why more was not done. Additionally,”I don’t think my client wanted to adopt a scorched earth approach.”

Lisa Deller, chair of community board 2, said she had heard nothing from Steve Madden. “They never went to a meeting nor did they submit anything.”

“I am surprised that they didn’t share their concerns more widely,” Deller said. “Nobody wants Steve Madden to leave. I’m sure we would have tried to accommodate their needs. I hope they can be accommodated in the new building.”

Phipps Houses plans to develop this Barnett Avenue site, which is currently used for parking (Photo: Queens Post)

email the author: [email protected]

5 Comments

Click for Comments 
Polis

Phipps has a lousy rep, with reason. If you think littering is a problem, wait until four-ten more stories suddenly appear. Bait and switch. A paltry fine. Developer business as usual.

Reply
Tim

The 7, M, R, a few bus lines and the Woodside LIRR station are less than 10 mins walk from here.

Reply
Anonymous

Of course. Jimmy Van Bramer first pushes away Amazon and now will push away Steve Madden. We’re doomed if he wins this year. He’ll push everyone onto the streets, landlords will go bankrupt, no jobs will exist, crime will rise and he will do nothing about it.

1
1
Reply
Rosamond Gianutsos

Has Steve Madden considered using elevated parking devices in their own on-site parking lot? I would like to know what local businesses their employees patronize – from the litter on Barnett Ave and 52 St, I suspect it’s Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks.

Reply

Leave a Comment
Reply to this Comment

All comments are subject to moderation before being posted.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Recent News

‘He didn’t deserve to die’: Borough President Richards leads emotional candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards held a candlelight vigil for Tyre Nichols outside Queens Borough Hall Monday, Jan. 30 after Nichols’ death at the hands of police officers in Memphis, Tenn., made national headlines for the brutality in which the officers beat him.

Almost immediately after news broke about Nichols’ death, the Memphis police officers who beat him to death were fired and charged with murder. The police department released the body cam footage of the fatal beating on Jan. 27, but many people, including some at the vigil, have refused to watch it due to its extremely graphic nature.

Long Island City teen sentenced in fatal shooting of ‘beloved’ school teacher at Queensbridge Houses in 2020: DA

A Long Island City man on Friday, Jan. 28, was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the 2020 fatal shooting of a public school social studies teacher who was out walking his dog when he was caught in the crossfire during a confrontation between gang rivals in broad daylight, just blocks from his home, according to Queens District Attorney’s office.

Ike Ford, 19, of 12th Street, in Long Island City, pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the first degree before Queens Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder. The teacher, George Rosa, 53, was shot in his abdomen by a stray bullet fired by Ford, who was just 17 years old at the time of the shooting but was sentenced as an adult given the severity of the crime, according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

LaGuardia Community College receives federal funding to expand vocational training for the unemployed

LaGuardia Community College recently received more than $400,000 in federal funding to enhance and expand vocational training for underemployed New Yorkers in a city that is still working to recover from COVID-19 pandemic-induced job loss. The support was secured by U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and former Congresswoman Carolyn B. Maloney.

LaGuardia Community College President Kenneth Adams explained that the school lost nearly a quarter of its students at the height of the pandemic due to the economic effects of the lockdown on low-income Queens households.

BP launches new advisory panel for youth to become civically engaged in the future of Queens

In an effort to get more young people involved in civics, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards has created a new advisory panel known as the Youth and Young Adult Council to introduce the “youngest and fiercest” community advocates to both community service and organization.

Members of the advisory body will advocate concerns through means of community engagement by participating in one of two cohorts. The first will be made up of high school representatives between the ages of 13 and 17, while the second cohort will be comprised of young adults between the ages of 18 and 25.