TEMPE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -- Fans of electronic dance music (EDM) are rallying to save the live music scene at a beloved venue in Tempe following complaints by residents who live in a high-rise building across the street.
According to a social media post by Shady Park, which is located on University Drive just east of Mill Avenue, residents living in a new luxury high-rise apartment directly across the street launched an aggressive campaign several weeks ago to shut down live music at the venue. The restaurant, popular for serving up ramen, sushi, pizza, and drinks, hosts several live music shows a week in its open backyard portion. The shows feature local and national headline EDM artists and DJs.
The venue has operated under live music permits since 2015 which allows them to host live music, both indoor and outdoor, until 2 a.m. seven days a week. For 14 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, Shady Park limited it's operations and temporarily paused their live music. During that pause, residents started to move into a new retirement community apartment complex directly across the street from Shady Park. When the venue resumed its live music shows, a group of residents living at the retirement community reportedly contacted the City of Tempe in an attempt to shut down the live music. According to Shady Park, they received a notice from Tempe city officials threatening criminal charges and demanded the venue "refrain from selling tickets in advance of live entertainment."
Shady Park says they are working with some Tempe city leaders and elected officials to find a long-term solution. Shady Park owners say they cherish the community that has been built at their venue and asked their followers for support as the business temporarily moves to a cover charge-only model.
The City of Tempe provided the following statement regarding the ongoing dispute:
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.
Additionally, there was a code violation issued to Shady Park recently for selling event tickets in advance of shows at the location. This activity is expressly prohibited under their use permit from the city. This issue was quickly and satisfactorily resolved by the business owner.
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.
Finally, the City of Tempe must be open to hearing feedback and concerns about quality of life issues from all our residents, regardless of age, economic status or any other factor. As our downtown and other areas of Tempe continue to grow and become home to increasing numbers of diverse populations – a goal that has been envisioned for Tempe for many decades – there must be mutual respect and a healthy balancing of everyone’s rights to live, work, recreate and be entertained. Only with this kind of peaceful co-existence can a city like ours truly thrive. We appreciate community members sharing their concerns and voicing their support for live music and their loyalty to a Downtown Tempe business.
The apartment complex across the street, Mirabella at ASU, declined to comment for the story, but a spokesperson for ASU provided the following statement on the situation between the apartment and Shady Park:
"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."
Tempe police say they have received 41 loud noise complaints regarding Shady Park since May 1. Police confirmed that Tempe city officials are working with the establishment owners and management regarding the noise concerns. The department says it will continue to help everyone work through solutions.
Shady Park's initial social media post has gone viral within the EDM community, getting thousands of retweets and likes across multiple platforms. Several popular DJs who have played at Shady Park shared the post on their social media pages as well to support and defend the venue along with the local live music scene. The owner of Shady Park declined to comment for the story.
Shady Park is a place that means a whole lot to Tempe based DJ Ben Dorman, who is known around the word as DJ “BIJOU.”
“This was my first ever headline show in Tempe, and to sell it out was crazy,” Dorman said. “I take a lot of pride in Tempe and Phoenix as a whole, and this venue from the day it opened has kind of created its own community.”
Chris Mayeda is a fan of Shady Park and has been going to the venue for years. “I would really just ask the retirement community to understand that this has been a long time going,” Mayeda said. “It just doesn’t make any sense why there would be retirement home right here because there’s literally Arizona State University right there,” he laughed.
Hundreds of Shady Park fans took to Google reviews Wednesday night, sinking Mirabella to a 1.3 star rating, explaining why they want to save the venue and make sure live music is here to stay. “I think it would be cool if everyone could come to an agreement and some type of resolution so the people who live in Mirabella are happy and the owners and people who work here are happy and the people who come to the shows are happy,” said Dorman.