Radio Bushwick (Photo by Maria Gotay for Bushwick Daily)

CMJ festival frenzy has taken over the NYC’s music scene, however one Bushwick music venue has not been able to host live music due to a temporary restraining order issued by the court. Radio Bushwick, located at 22 Wyckoff Ave, was forced to cancel all its shows during the CMJ week and to help finding the event planners alternative venues.

We, similarly like you, were wondering about the reasons, especially after Brooklyn Magazine published an article speculating whether Radio Bushwick closed due to building violations. Firstly, it is important to note that Radio Bushwick is not closed. It is currently open and serving drinks at its bar; it is only unable to host live music events and to serve as an “entertainment venue” until its next court date on October 30. The tenant, Radio Bushwick is currently in a legal dispute with its landlord, Cayuga Capital Management, essentially over lacking fire alarms and sprinklers but naturally the situation is a lot more complicated than that. We spoke with both the tenant and landlord, and here is the play by play.

“I signed the lease in 2010 and it took me three years to open because the landlord, Cayuga Capital Management failed to meet the conditions of our lease agreement,” told us Tari Sunkin, the owner of Radio Bushwick yesterday. “Cayuga Capital were supposed to convert the space from manufacturing to retail and then from retail to bar and restaurant,” Ms Sunkin continued adding that this type of rezoning is a standard procedure. “They didn’t do the work, and it was only to file paperwork,” she added. “To force Cayuga to finish the work, I stopped paying my rent.”

Jamie Wiseman, the principal of Cayuga Capital Management emailed us yesterday rejecting that his company had any outstanding obligations from the lease agreement with Radio Bushwick. “The tenant commenced its lease on March 2010 including an acknowledgement by the tenant that all landlord work required to be performed under the lease was completed except for delivery of an ADA bathroom, brick repointing and installation of a water meter to the space.  All of these requirements, none of which include delivery of a CO, could be satisfied by crediting tenant with $8,000 in rent credit.  This rent credit has been applied and thus there are no further landlord obligations,” Mr. Wiseman emailed us.

Cayuga Capital subsequently sued Radio Bushwick for over $100,000 of unpaid rent and expenses “and failure to comply with applicable law including the lease requirements to sign-off her construction job with the DOB,” wrote in an email Mr Wiseman.

“I contra-sued them requesting Cayuga to finish the work,” said Ms Sunkin.

Then Cayuga Capital took Radio Bushwick to New York’s Supreme Court claiming that Radio Bushwick operated as bar/dance/music venue without proper safety systems including fire alarms and safety systems. Radio Bushwick replied that they are a bar with a minor entertainment component, which doesn’t require such safety systems, according to the court’s Temporary Restraining Order, which we received from Cayuga.   

Ms Sunkin explained on the phone that they planned to put the fire alarms and sprinklers in place but this was met with further building complications and new plans need to be resubmitted.

The court ruled in an emergency session that Radio Bushwick may continue its operation as a bar but must temporarily stop serving as an entertainment venue until its court date set for November 13. Ms Sunkin said that that they were granted an earlier court date set for October 30.

“Solely based on Radio Bushwick’s operation as a eating and drinking establishment with live entertainment a cabaret license is required, it’s current operation is unsafe,” said Mr Wiseman. “Furthermore, the tenant has been unable and unwilling to provide proof of insurance for its operations as specified and required by her lease.  A venue should not operate without insurance.  As the landlord, we have a duty to be proactive in ensuring the space we own is not operated in an unsafe manner without insurance.  We had no choice, given the tenant’s complete control and occupancy of the premises, but to seek governmental assistance to compel the tenant to comply with applicable law,” he continued.

“Radio Bushwick has been inspected by Fire Department and by Department of Buildings,” told us Ms Sunkin. “This problem will be resolved on October 30.” Ms Sunkin also added that Cayuga Capital is a notorious landlord in the neighborhood, and suggested that they might be trying to get rid of existing tenant because the current market value of their rent is higher than they agreed to pay in 2010. “He has money and lawyers, so he can do this,” said frustrated Ms Sunkin who is also a member of Community Board 4.

“On multiple occasions we have requested that the tenant obtain a certificate of occupancy, cabaret license and public assembly certificate of operation as is required by law for the operation of the tenant’s business as it was previously conducted.  None have been completed or issued.  The NYC Department of Buildings has issued multiple violations citing the lack of such governmentally issued certificates and licenses. See here.” replied Mr Wiseman.

So the story of Radio Bushwick as a music venue will hopefully continue also after October 30; until then we have to conclude that it is not exactly an easy breeze to run a music venue in NYC, and hopefully the landlord and tenant will find an agreement.