Michael Wenye Li / Sun Senior Photographer

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong at the Haunt on Sept. 1, 2018. The Haunt will be relocating from the Cayuga Inlet to downtown, as a part of the City Harbor development.

February 14, 2020

The Haunt to Relocate As Waterfront Development Readies for Ground-Breaking

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The Haunt, a popular music venue along the Cayuga Inlet, will relocate downtown as City Harbor, a large-scale residential and recreational complex, prepares to transform the neighborhood over the coming years.

Opening in 1969, the Haunt has become Ithaca’s largest nightclub with live music, according to their website. The venue hosts nationally recognized bands several nights each week.

The venue expects to move by September 2021, according to Dan Smalls ’92, owner of Dan Smalls Presents Inc., the company that manages all productions at the Haunt. Smalls affirmed that everything is business-as-usual at The Haunt for the next 18 months, and that he is excited about the eventual relocation, though its details are not decided.

“If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right,” Smalls said. “We’re going to have a first-class venue so that there isn’t another of its kind in Central New York.”

The Haunt’s property and the surrounding area is slated to become City Harbor, whose construction is planned to begin this spring. The development will include 156 apartments, as well as parks, a renovated boat marina, a promenade and overfill parking for the Farmers Market, said Costa Lambrou of Lambrou Real Estate, one of the project’s four developers.

Thomas Knipe, deputy director for economic development in Ithaca, weighed in with similarly positive comments, remarking that the City Harbor project “does a really good job of implementing the city’s vision for the future of the waterfront.”

According to Knipe, city officials and City Harbor developers have been working together to help find a new home for The Haunt.

Other businesses near the upcoming City Harbor are not yet experiencing consequences of the new development. An employee at Infinity Ithaca, a nearby gym, said that they haven’t yet been affected by the changes.

Brian Miles, an employee at the nearby business HiWay HiFi said that they, too, are not anticipating any negative consequences, and are looking forward to the increased business that will result from the added population of the area.

The firm’s owner, Lee Kasian, said that he has been pleased with the developers’ work in the past. He described recent communication with them as pleasant, and is focusing on developing his store and preparing for future growth.

The City Harbor project will no doubt mark an appreciable change in the city of Ithaca, and – as with any substantial change – some amount of uneasiness is inevitable. For the most part, however, business owners appear to welcome development.