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Preservation Board sends Norstar back to revise plans for new apartments

The Buffalo Planning Board wants Norstar Development to revise its plans for construction of its final 176 apartments at the former Shoreline Apartments.

Norstar wants to demolish a total of 16 buildings on 7th street, including 105, 85, 65 and 45 as well as the following locations on Niagara Street: 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, 180, 190, 200, 210, 220, 230 and 240.

The demolitions would allow Norstar to move into the second and final phase of construction of the affordable housing units called Niagara Square Apartments.

In addition to the demolition request, Norstar wanted the city’s Preservation Board on Thursday to review and make recommendations on the developer’s proposed mitigation efforts. It marked the second time the project came before the Preservation Board, which originally denied the project without prejudice in July 2016 and asked Norstar to return with a more refined plan in conjunction with the New York State Historic Preservation Office.

But board members were unimpressed Thursday with the latest mitigation plans, which included an outdoor, three-sided kiosk on Niagara Street with images and information on the history of Niagara Street and the former Shoreline apartments.

Ultimately, board members tabled the requests and sent Norstar back to “augment and elaborate on mitigation measures based on the boards suggestions and recommendations,” said Board Chairman Paul McDonnell.

Norstar representatives will return to the Preservation Board in two weeks with a revised plan, said Linda Goodman, senior vice president in Norstar’s Buffalo office.

It was the placement of a proposed sculpture of architect Paul M. Rudolph, who designed Shoreline, that left board members particularly unimpressed, primarily because the sculpture would be installed inside a courtyard in one of the low-rise apartment buildings and wouldn't be visible to the general public, board members said.

“Who can see it and what significance is it going to have?” asked Board Member Eric Lander.

Board Member John Laping recommended placing the artwork in an area that would be more publicly visible.

The Niagara Square Apartment project involves redevelopment of the former low-income Shoreline Apartments into 224 affordable family rental units. The project will provide replacement housing for current residents of the former Shoreline and will ensure affordable housing opportunities remain available in the area, according to Norstar documents submitted to the Preservation Board.

Phase one was completed earlier this year with 48 units that are fully occupied with former Shoreline residents, Goodman said.

For the second phase, 176 units are planned, and former Shoreline residents will be able to return with a condition.

“They all have the right to come back, but they must be income-qualified,” Goodman said.

The second phase of redevelopment Plans also call for the construction of two low-rise apartment buildings at the intersection of Niagara Street and the newly constructed Georgia Street extension. Each apartment building will include commercial space at the corner of Niagara Street and the new Georgia Street extension.

There also will be 16 smaller, semi-detached townhome buildings along Niagara Street and 7th Street. Plans also call for the apartment buildings and townhomes with frontage on Niagara Street to be predominately clad in brick. A mixture of fiber cement siding and brick is proposed for the townhomes with frontage along 7th Street, developers said.


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