This morning we spoke with Tari Sunkin, the owner of Radio Bushwick. She gave us the story behind the Department of Buildings’ records we found yesterday which detailed several complaints and violations at the venue’s 22 Wyckoff Avenue address and the subsequent closing of Radio Bushwick, which she confirmed was temporary, just before several lineups for CMJ week.
Sunkin detailed a longtime dispute with her landlord, Jamie Wiseman (principal of Cayuga Capital Management)—a man she characterizes as notorious around the neighborhood for tenant harassment and failing to live up to landlord responsibilities. The dispute began, Sunkin says, when Wiseman failed to file papers to rezone the building from a manufacturing space to a retail space. “It was understood that it would be my responsibility to change it from retail to restaurant,” she said. “But my landlord never changed it to retail. That’s why it took me three years to open, and he had one last piece of paperwork to do and he didn’t do it.”
As an example of the gratuitous court proceedings Wiseman has initiated, Sunkin pointed to her last court date on Monday, when Wiseman’s lawyers accused her of violating the temporary restraining order granted earlier by a judge. “They said I was violating it because I was having a show at the venue on the 23rd,” she laughed; it’s the 22nd of October, so effectively Wiseman was being sued for a potential violation in the future and one that hadn’t yet taken place.
Sunkin put a great deal of money into remodeling and repairing the building, even reconstructing the entire front facade— “the kind of stuff the landlord is usually responsible for,” she said. Yet according to Sunkin, Wiseman continued to neglect to have the building converted. So she stopped paying rent. And since then, the two have sued and countersued one another, with Wiseman alleging the venue is unsafe and a fire hazard and that Sunkin lacked insurance. She eventually proved in court that she in fact did have insurance. “Basically, he’s making me spend a bunch of money on lawyers until I give up and go away and he gets a bunch of free renovations,” she said.
Sunkin also says the DOB and Fire Department have both inspected Radio Bushwick multiple times within the past few months, and left satisfied that everything was safe. She also alleged the recent noise complaints were possibly the work of Wiseman. “I’m 90 percent sure they came from the landlord, a couple may have come from my neighbors from people screaming outside or something,” she said. Sunkin, who serves on Community Board 4, explained that noise complaints go directly to the CB, which created somewhat of an awkward situation.
“I was really pumped about CMJ and it was my first CMJ with my own venue,” she said. Sunkin is convinced that Wiseman knew how important CMJ was to the venue and planned accordingly.
Sunkin returns to court on October 30th, and she’s determined to reopen Radio Bushwick. “I will eventually get my cabaret license once he signs the paperwork,” she said.