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Norstar urged to reconsider speeded-up timetable for Shoreline Apartments

The plight of Shoreline Apartments tenants has caught the attention of Buffalo lawmakers, who are encouraging Norstar Development to rethink its timetable for demolishing and rebuilding the low-income housing complex on Niagara Street.

“People are being victimized,” Fillmore District Council Member David A. Franczyk said. “Minimally, what must be done, is tenants must be given more time.”

“Hopefully Norstar will go back to the drawing board and look at this,” added Council President Darius G. Pridgen. “I don’t think anyone is trying to stop development, but you have to have people in mind.”

At Franczyk’s request, the Common Council earlier this week adopted a resolution supporting Shoreline tenants. On Wednesday, it was announced that a public hearing on Norstar’s plan will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Common Council Chambers.

At 4 p.m. the same day, Norstar is scheduled to present its Shoreline demolition and new construction proposal to the city’s Planning Board.

Norstar originally planned a three-phase demolition and rebuilding of the apartment complex that would have allowed tenants to seamlessly move from their old apartments into newly constructed units. But Norstar now says that to take advantage of additional funds it hopes to receive from New York State, the company needs to speed up its timetable and rebuild the complex in two phases instead of three.

As a result, some 175 families are being told they must leave by Nov. 1, so that existing units can all be demolished before new construction begins.

Norstar Vice President Linda L. Goodman on Monday discussed the plan at a meeting that attracted more than 100 tenants, many of whom said they need more than six months to find a new place to live.

Goodman assured tenants that Norstar will help every tenant find a new place to live.

But some Council members, who either attended the meeting or learned about it in the media, agreed that six months is insufficient time for the low-income tenants – many elderly and disabled – to find alternative housing that they can afford.

“Finding an apartment near where they live today will be almost impossible,” said Niagara District Council Member David A. Rivera. “They will not find affordable housing within the area they live. It’s all market rate.”

And Pridgen said that forcing people to leave by November could be disruptive to families with schoolchildren.

The Council does not have any direct authority over Norstar, which is a private company.

Goodman did not return a call seeking comment on Wednesday.