The downtown Tempe community that surrounds Shady Park, a nightclub and live music venue on Mill Avenue, is up in arms about a court decision that will halt live music at the venue.
Shady Park has been forced to cease all live music operations after a Maricopa County Superior Court judge ruled in favor of a retirement community across the street.
The venue has been one of downtown Tempe’s most popular clubs since the business opened its doors in 2014. The ruling against the venue shocked the Tempe community, as residents question why a judge would favor a retirement community in the middle of an entertainment district and college town.
Mirabella at ASU, a 20-story senior living residential high-rise building across the street from Shady Park on Mill Avenue, filed a lawsuit in 2021 against the nightclub because of what was deemed in court documents as excessive noise coming from the venue that was disturbing senior residents.
“With all of these new buildings surrounding Mill Avenue, the culture and history on Mill Avenue will diminish faster than I can imagine. These developments such as the retirement home and the new construction of the Omni Hotel will cause more complaints that can possibly lead to the downfall of downtown Tempe,” said Haley Vial, an Arizona State University alum.
The venue will appeal the ruling and will be forced to shut down if the ruling is upheld, according to a statement from Shady Park after the ruling.
“While we never thought ASU would use its land for a retirement home, we are even more surprised that the profit center for the ASU Foundation would be deemed more important than the local community and culture that makes this downtown so special,” the statement read.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, over 20 businesses closed in downtown Tempe, which was once a hotspot for nightlife businesses in the Valley. If the ruling is upheld, Shady Park could soon join the long list of businesses that have shuttered in the area.
“This ruling has the potential to cost many employees their jobs and rob the city of Tempe of an economic and cultural asset,” said Tempe Vice Mayor Randy Keating during Tempe city council’s work session on April 21. Keating also said the venue has contributed to Tempe’s reputation as “the Valley’s live music capital.”
The venue has already received overwhelming support from the surrounding community, with more than 100 community members protesting on the streets of Tempe on April 20 and over 20,000 signatures on #SaveShadyPark, a petition to Tempe City Council for the continuance of the venue’s live music.
“ASU is renowned for its easy going, fun lifestyle and with the rise of these new businesses, Mill Ave will never be the same,” said Vial.
As Tempe tries to hold on to its culture and reputation as a home for nightlife businesses, the city’s development boom questions if the city can hold on to what it once was.
“We hope that this local business can be preserved and that live music venues, which contribute so much to Tempe’s culture, will be able to continue to add to our city’s quality of life and economy,” said Keating.