Music News

Shady Park Tempe Says the New ASU Retirement High-Rise Next Door Is Trying to Shut It Down

Throwback to an anniversary celebration for Shady Park Tempe.
Throwback to an anniversary celebration for Shady Park Tempe. Benjamin Leatherman

Shady Park Tempe has put out a call for help on social media, asking community members to contact Tempe City Council members to show their support for live music at the venue, a staple of the downtown Tempe entertainment scene.

On June 16, the eatery and live music venue located at 26 East University Drive posted a statement that some residents of a new residential high-rise have complained in recent weeks about live music happening at the indoor/outdoor space.

Shady Park doesn't mention the new development by name, but there is a high-rise tower called Mirabella at ASU located at 65 East University Drive, which the university describes as a "unique retirement experience" and "intergenerational community." The first residents began moving in at the end of December 2020.

“A few weeks ago some of these residents began a coordinated, aggressive campaign to attempt to force the City of Tempe to shut down live music at Shady Park,” the venue wrote, in part, adding that it had also received a notice saying it needed to stop selling advance tickets for live entertainment.

“To be clear,” the post continued, “Shady Park has live music permits, and we have been operating under these permits since 2015. Those permits allow for live music, both indoor and outdoor, until 2 am seven days a week. This is what this is really about.”

The city of Tempe sent Phoenix New Times the following statement regarding the conflict:

"Recently concern was raised by residents who live near Shady Park about the noise level of the bar/restaurant activities. As live music events have resumed in response to the lifting of Covid-19 group event restrictions, these concerns have become more frequent. In an effort to accommodate both the residents and Tempe music lovers, city staff has worked with the owner of Shady Park to implement some sound mitigation measures to direct the noise away from the residential area. We very much appreciate the willingness of Shady Park management to address these issues."

The city added that a code violation had recently been issued to Shady Park for selling tickets in advance of shows. "This activity is expressly prohibited under their use permit from the city," the city said, adding that the issue "was quickly and satisfactorily resolved" by Shady Park. (It appears, according to Shady Park's post, that it will only do "cover charges" moving forward, as opposed to advanced ticketing.)

"There are no specific changes to the city noise ordinance or restrictive measures related to Shady Park or any other business in the Mill Avenue entertainment area being formally considered by the City Council at this time. Furthermore, there is no effort by the city to ‘shut down’ this establishment. We value Shady Park as a vibrant downtown business and have always worked cooperatively with its owner and management. We look forward to that positive relationship continuing," the city said. "We appreciate community members sharing their concerns and voicing their support for live music and their loyalty to a Downtown Tempe business."

As of this writing, Shady Park had not responded to New Times’ request for comment.

Calls to Mirabella directed us to ASU. An ASU university spokesman told New Times: "Arizona State University is aware of the disruption that Mirabella residents are experiencing and the rights and responsibilities of the owners of the Shady Park night club and we are working with all parties and the city of Tempe to find a satisfactory resolution."

In its Wednesday statement issued via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, the venue asked community members to contact members of the city council to express their support for Shady Park. According to that statement, Shady Park is “working with some Tempe leaders and elected officials to find a long term solution.”

The issue is not currently listed on any City Council meeting agendas that have been posted online. Interested community members can follow City Council meeting agendas and find contact information for City Council members on the city of Tempe website.

This post has been updated to include comment from ASU.
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Lynn Trimble is an award-winning freelance writer and photographer specializing in arts and culture, including visual and performing arts
Contact: Lynn Trimble