BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Hundreds of tenants from Buffalo’s Shoreline Apartments have been displaced by an extreme makeover at the complex, but many of those residents say their relocation has not gone as smoothly as the owners promised.
Shoreline’s owners, Norstar Development USA, started the metamorphosis about three years ago, bulldozing the apartments in phases, and building new homes, but tenants have had to fight to be treated fairly.
Company officials had assured city and state officials they would help the tenants move out of the 50-year-old development, find new homes, and if they wished, move back into the new apartments, along Niagara Street when they are finished. But tenant John Schmidt said that is not working out for him. He is being forced to downsize, “I am stuck looking at relocating into a shoe box which is about one quarter the size of the apartment I have now.”
The tenants got so fed up with the confusion surrounding Norstar’s relocation decisions they summoned city and state officials to step in and bring order, last year, leading to a formal relocation plan.
The plan called for Norstar offering each household $350 to help with their move, or leave let Norstar handle the move for them.
Tenant Steven Applewhite did not find that plan very helpful, “Use their movers, which I do not see that even being feasible,” and if the tenant turns their move over to the company Norstar hired, what happens to the $350? “Then we get nothing.”
But Schmidt said that strategy does not always work well for tenants, and recalled an older lady who chose the company mover.
“She is 73 years old. She injured her back carrying boxes upstairs because the movers would not do it for her. They just dumped it, took off, said they had other jobs to do, and left her on her own.”
The first phase of Shoreline Apartments’ makeover is just about complete. New units have replaced the old outdated apartments, and they are occupied—former tenants have moved back in some of the units, while residents new to the complex are living in others.
As the exodus of Shoreline Apartments winds down, a top staff member for the Common Council said they have not received any new complaints from Shoreline residents.
News 4 also reached out to Norstar Management for this report, but we were unsuccessful because their office was closed for the Labor Day holiday.