Judge orders Chandler nightclub Phase 54 closed - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Judge orders Chandler nightclub Phase 54 closed

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Posted: Monday, August 30, 2010 3:34 pm | Updated: 9:51 am, Tue Aug 31, 2010.

A court has ordered Phase 54 to close, and on the same day the Chandler nightclub filed for bankruptcy protection.

The ruling is a victory for surrounding restaurants who moved to block Phase 54, saying it never should have opened because of restrictions preventing a club on the property near Interstate 10 and Ray Road.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Richard Gama sided with the restaurants late last week, ruling against Phase 54's arguments that it was not a nightclub.

Phase 54's neighbors took legal action two weeks before it opened in May, arguing the covenants, codes and restrictions on the land prevent any nightclub, disco, dance hall, music hall or similar entertainment facility.

Club owner Jon Harris at the time claimed racism was behind the opposition. In court, his attorney filed briefs refuting it was a nightclub, but instead that is was a concert venue. Gama ruled the restrictions against a nightclub or similar use clearly prevent Club 54.

The venue opened in a former Terri's Consign & Design, which Harris gutted for a $1 million renovation.

When the dispute broke out, Harris argued nobody objected in the months he was navigating Chandler's public hearings and permitting requirements. The two-story club opened with 26,100 square feet, a stage with lighting and sounds for full bands and dancers to perform in a concert atmosphere. It also had a large wine cellar.

When it opened, the Chandler Chamber of Commerce joined in the ribbon-cutting ceremony to welcome an upscale venue that is the city's only nightclub.

But the neighboring Outback Steakhouse, Charleston's and Carrabba's objected, citing its patrons would park in spaces they were entitled to because Phase 54 couldn't provide as many spaces as the club needed.

It is unclear whether Phase 54 will attempt to remain open. The club's website is advertising upcoming events and the judge ruled his decision can be appealed. Calls to the club and to its attorney were not returned.

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