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Shoreline Apartments
The Shoreline Apartments in the shadow of City Hall and near the West Village will be getting a make-over. Norstar Development USA is spending $13 million to purchase and renovate the subsidized housing development completed in 1972. The rehabilitation work will result in the number of units shrinking from 142 to 87 as smaller units will be combined to create larger units more appropriate for families.
Exterior and interior renovations are planned. Two buildings will be removed and the remaining nine buildings will receive new facades, windows, and railings. New parking, improved lighting and additional green space will complete the transformation. Existing tenants, primarily low-to-moderate income, will not be displaced. MB Management, based in Braintree, Mass., currently controls the complex, which reportedly has a 30 percent vacancy rate.
Norstar Development specializes in the development, construction and management of all forms of housing, as well as the implementation of retail, industrial and commercial projects in the United States and Canada. Locally, Norstar has been involved with the Ellicott Town Center and Frederick Douglass redevelopment projects along Michigan Avenue and Clinton Streets. The firm has also been looking to do additional work in the city- it bid on the outer harbor NFTA property and the vacant lot next to the Admiral’s Walk condominiums in Waterfront Village. Competing projects were selected for the sites however.
Renderings: Foit-Albert Associates.

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  • where is the vision, let’s not just build to build, cookie cutter structures are for the suburbs. are these apartments built out of corragated steel? i hope the same architect that planned the buffalo navel park building does not have anything to do with this.

  • hamp

    Let me be the first one to say that this renovation is misguided at best.
    I will admit that the buildings may not be what most would consider beautiful, but they are an important work by an important architect-Paul Rudolph. The buildings should be considered landmarks.
    The renderings, showing the additions of frivolous towers and other trendy gimmicks look absolutely silly. This flys in the face of the city’s attempts to preserve prominent buildings.
    I don’t know what the architects were thinking, but there are better ways to humanize this complex withour resorting to amateurish tricks.
    Back to the drawing board please. This city deserves better.

  • 300miles

    The renderings are too sketchy to tell for sure, but it looks like it will be a big improvement over what’s there now.
    Wardo, the cookie cutter apartment are already there today. This project is improving them. It’s not a new build. It’s a renovation.
    I like it. Do it.

  • my mistake. i thought this was a outer harbor thing. i think any improvment will be good to thoughs apartments as long as it is not corragated steel.

  • L

    Those buildings were ugly as hell from the day they were built! Ugly and in the wrong location and contributed to the decay of the city instead of its intended purpose.
    If only we could eliminate all municipal housing and replace it with vouchers and get out of the business of competing with local landlords and property owners.
    Its to sketchy to know whether its a quality design and whether their going to use quality materials but it looks like an improvement.
    And in response to your state about cookie cutter buildings being for the suburbs I kinda agree….give me a replica period building or give me something bold, sleek and full of windows and leave the suburbs with their cookie cutter buildings which arent always bad but rarely urban and pedestrian friendly.

  • hamp

    “Ugly and in the wrong location”.
    That’s what did-in the Larkin Building.
    Does everything have to look olde to be saved?

  • Streetwise

    There’s a Navel Park in Buffalo? Who knew the region was such a hotbed of citrus activity that it warrants its own park! Oh, unless that is, were talking about the other navel, then I simply have to visit to see the belly-button lint exhibit.

  • James

    So, what do we really expect from Norstar Development USA? The renderings are very sketchy. But it looks as though they are trying for some half-assed new urbanist crap. They have these little balconies with over-grown greenery. And the top image has some observation towers that make it look like a ski resort lodge. The orginial building’s design ignores Niagara St way too much but at least it have vision. That photo of the existing conditions is quite flattering actually. If we want an ambitious yet sensitive design we need to demand better architects. Look at the “boutique” hotel, crappy architect + crappy client + public imput = mediocrity.

  • 300miles

    we could go navel gazing at a navel park It will be a tribute to all that local govt has accompished in WNY

  • Tim

    Why isn’t anyone else wondering how much this is going to cost us taxpayers and why it is justified? Redoing the layout on the inside to make it more useful for families makes sense I suppose, but the outside renovations are going to be expensive and are of dubious necessity. I suspect the people living in public housing aren’t concerned about how trendy the exteriors of their buildings are; they’re just grateful to have a place to live. If they are concerned with the trendy factor, they’re probably working hard to get out of public housing.

  • dave

    Maybe we should call it “loser housing” ehh timmy? We wouldnt want our tax dollar spent on anything more than the bare necessities.

  • I don’t believe many folks living in Shoreline in the present day are all the too happy about it. It is a hotbed of crime, drugs, and shootings.
    It is with this in mind that I ask Norstar what they have recommended for security and to rid structure of the current bawdy tenants.

  • comptart

    amen, Marilyn! Glad someone had the balls to ask what I wanted to!

  • Ryan Pierce

    Anybody have any info and pics of the neighborhood that was here before the Shoreline Apts were built?

  • 300miles

    I saw an old photo of the shoreline apartments soon after they were built and it looks a lot better now that those trees have matured. When it was new it looked like tons on concrete on concrete. Now those trees really soften it up.
    Also, that photo above only shows half of the complex. There is more across the street (to the left). Is the whole complex included in this renovation?

  • rocky

    it sounds to me like they are going to make the site more suburbanized than it already is by tearing down some of the units. By the look of the elevation drawings they are tearing down some of the units that make these into continuous chains of buildings. It looks like they are going to be more like free standing buildings in a park. That would be too bad.

  • M@

    Paul rudolph is a very important architect in the history of mid twentieth century architecture. It also isn’t the most attractive building in buffalo, but neither is Graycliff. But you don’t see that with “nautical towers” being attached to it!
    anyway i found this about the complex:
    1972 Community Facilities Complex incorporating
    educational, community service, recreation
    and commercial facilities for New York State
    Urban Development Corporation,
    Buffalo, New York
    my point is that you will not see anyone lementing the renovation of a Foit-Albert designed building 34 years into its use. A good first step, but some sensitivity is in order.

  • Pauldub

    Corrugated navels. Every plan announced gets blasted here. I have yet to see something that actually mirrors the “artist’s conception” that’s what it is. A pretty picture to show off. As for Security, cut down all the trees and give security clear site lines.
    Remember, “Every silver lining is surrounded by a grey cloud”
    Actually, let’s wait and see what the actual plans are, not just the artist’s conception, ask Norstar for more information, and then crank up if necessary

  • 300miles

    of the 11 buildings they’re only tearing down 2. So it’s not going to be that much more free-standing than it is now.

  • gabe

    Why the hell is 14 million being invested into this asthetically anti-social monstosity? And if it’s coming from the taxpayers, why waste this kind of money renovating subsidized housing? The complex’s tenants will be just as poor after the work is done. Zero economic benifit.
    It would be one thing if Northstar would fix up the place and boot out the subsidized tenants.
    I fail to see the purpose in this.

  • Edward Street

    I have to say, I’m ashamed at the attitude of many of the posters on here take toward people in need of public assistance.
    If you want Buffalo to be all rich people in groovy homes, move to Williamsville.
    Sorry for the caps yelling.

  • westcoastperspective

    Marilyn may know the answer to this- but this series of buildings is actually several different complexes (possibly three), all with similar architecture but different owners. I believe the Shoreline complex is closest to Huron Street, fronting on Niagara.
    The complex is privately owned but are utilizing IDA financing and Section 236 restructuring under Empire State Development Corporation’s Project Retention Loan Program. $13 million is a significant investment, Edward is right, not everyone can afford a $900 one bedroom loft.

  • John Marko

    I like the buildings – they were beautiful when they were buit – even tho Pau Rudolph is a famous/important 20th Century Archtect, he didn’t know ANYTHIHNG about proper waterproofing and weatherizing.
    MANY of his structures all over the country suffer the same fate.
    I remember always wishing I was older so I could some day live there.
    Oh, well.
    Too bad this nice design is home to so many problems.

  • 300miles

    When they first announced this project last fall I could have sworn they were going to be Market Rate rentals.
    Possibly the current tenants remain with whatever assistance they receive but new tenants will be at market rate?
    Also, before everyone gets bent out of shape over tax dollars… Did they say anywhere that tax money was being used for renovations? Tax money used for the subsidized rent is not the same as tax money used for the renovations. Two separate things. Especially if new rentals will be market rate.
    WCP – do you have any info on the Rates/Subsidies/Tax Money situation?

  • BuffaloItalianGuy

    I’ve been a resident of the Shoreline Apartments for over 20 years and it’s been getting worse here every year. Management doesn’t seem to care about the tenants they let move in and they do a poor job at maintaining the outside appearance of the complex. During this past winter, you’d see litter strewn all over the grounds, which would still be lying around a week later.
    If and when this renovation project ever gets started, I’ll be curious to see if Norstar will be able to rid the complex of the numerous problems we residents have been dealing with.

  • Here’s some information about the tax breaks the Erie County Industrial Development Agency gave Norstar back in May of 2005. The Shoreline residents are still waiting for the renovations to begin.

  • theguy

    this place is full of good residents but unfortunately it has way more who are involved in crime and drugs…welfare is not the cure…the drugs in this building are astounding…two deaths there in the last 3 month that failed to make the papers…one shooting on stabbing

  • Any talk of it being a HOT BED for drugs and crime is unwarranted….
    Please present the facts….do these apartments attract any more crime than other parts of the city…
    I know a few people who live there and generally they said it is pretty safe and crime free…nothing more than other parts of the city….
    I actually love the fact that we have these people living in the shadow of City Hall….all part of the mix that will help make downtown community considering the influx of lofts and what not going up….it is part of what makes a city a city….diversity…
    As for the design of this complex….it really isn’t that bad and is unique to the landscape….


    At least one set of the buildings is a cheap knock off of the Paul Rudolf buildings. The knock offs are at the south west end. i wonder if those are the ones being demoed. the Water Front school is based on Rudolph’s plans. It is an interesting building. It is currently being renovated. The Niagara Falls Library is also a Rudolph building. It had a huge leak problem when it opened. Rudolph also planned a massive residential development for Erie Basin composed of giant stepped towers

  • BuffaloItalianGuy

    I forgot to mention that this first phase of the renovations only covers the portion of the Shoreline complex which is bounded by 7th St, Carolina St, Busti Ave and Pine Harbor Walk. I’m not even sure if Norstar has purchased the larger Niagara St portion of the complex yet.
    The architectural drawings of the plans are on display to the public at the Shoreline office at 200 Niagara St.

  • Pauldub

    Street -Yell to state the obvious. I agree with you except for one point:
    some of the houses in Williamsville are DOGS!

  • WCP:
    The original boundaries go from Mohawk to Carolina Streets and 7th to Niagara.
    C Byrd:
    It amazes me when folks who are not impacted by crime in a specific area make statements as yours:
    “Any talk of it being a HOT BED for drugs and crime is unwarranted….
    Please present the facts….do these apartments attract any more crime than other parts of the city…
    I know a few people who live there and generally they said it is pretty safe and crime free…nothing more than other parts of the city….”
    I work with the B District Police on a regular basis and I live within walking distance of this complex. I have actually followed suspicious vehicles committing crimes in my neighborhood to this complex. The crime centered in Shoreline is well documented by numerous 911 calls and evidence of drug and violent-related crimes. I cannot provide you with a chart, as this space is too small, but if you wish, I can retrieve the data.
    As well, I have personally met with a number of residents of this facility that are searching for better housing due to the crime and other related issues that impact them and their families. Security has always been an issue here. Police have a hard time getting into the complexes as they are built like Fort Knox when it comes to entering the individual buildings. Many fear for their lives as well as safety. Shootings, stabbings, and a place to run to create the havoc for those who wish to live comfortably and securely.
    People deserve better. If anything, they should look to the NYS Warranty of Habitability and make sure the current management adheres to this law. ( We are attempting to create a tenant association in this complex, but most residents fear retribution if they are seen in meetings, even if they are held at Holy Cross.
    One idea that is mentioned in the description of the renovations is the expansion of smaller studios into larger accomodations for family living. This may alleviate some of the crime but a strong security system, including licensed and trained personnel and electronics, is needed.
    I’m all for subsidized housing to assure the demise of social gentrification. A neigborhood/community needs a base of diversity to allow the residents to learn from and celebrate the differences in our cultures. That’s what makes city living so special.
    But, we also have to assure the folks who are on such programs are protected by those who would use the system for their illicit behavior and benefit. This provides safety and security for the others who are on such programs.

  • martin kemp

    watch this one closely…with the influx of new development in the city, do not be suprised if this goes “condo”. I have seen this happen in Atlanta [ the whole ralph mcgill area was all low income there, now all high end apartments and condo’s ], a developer gets hold of low income housing in a “hot” market or area and once the ball gets rolling things change…and fast. I may be wrong on this one, but 13 million to purchase and renovate for low income housing?
    [spell check anyone?]

  • Pauldub

    Gold star for you Martin, no errors. And a valid point I might add concerning the condo thing

  • martin kemp

    lol paul, on my second pot of joe….u?

  • matt b

    “But, we also have to assure the folks who are on such programs are protected by those who would use the system for their illicit behavior and benefit.”
    I couldn’t agree more, Marilyn R. Subsidized housing is an important and necessary component of any urban center – and I belive that a truly vibrant city can succeed with individuals of various economic backgrounds living together. HOWEVER, no one can argue that areas of subsidized housing suffer from high levels of crime. Inevitably there are always people taking advantage of a system that was established to solve problems, not inspire them.
    With the presence of the Blue Cross headquaters and other new development on the lower West Side, I believe that many of these “non-published” stabbings and drug problems will be thrust into the public eye. The most important thing is for local residents to find the confidence to report the problems and fight them alongside the police. There are many parts of this city where the “good guys” remain silent because they don’t believe anyone is listening.
    As for the development – if its improving things, I can’t criticize it. I’m sure there are many who would argue that updating the facades on a drug den is like putting a bandaid on a gun shot wound. Hopefully the project will expose all of the problems inside the complex.
    But in a city that needs all the help it can get, especially the down-trodden neighborhoods – something is better than nothing.
    Marilyn, I’d start by writing a letter to the editor of the Buffalo News, and try to get the press involved in this story as much as possible.

  • As a resident of the West Village I often walk around the corner to Niagara Street – there is a great New York Style Pizza shop between Carolina and Georgia on Niagara Street (Aramis) if you want to check it out. However, my wife will not walk over there unless she is with me. The crime is obvious and I have been solicited to buy drugs walking down the street in plain sight during the day. While my anecdotal accounts dont stack up Marilyn certainly has the data – proof is in the pudding.
    A neighbor told me that he had seen pictures of lower Niagara where this complex now is. They were all stone/ brick row houses – we can cough another one up to urban renewal. As for the buildings urbanity; it is currently lacking in it. The green spaces are secluded and hide people easily, the entire thing is fenced in with limited entrances and exits and in my opinion, regardless of the archirtect, look like bomb shelters – Im sure if research was done the buildings that were previoulsy there had much more value and probably a more valuable architectural history then the current.
    As for Norstar development – they have not once reached out to the surrounding community as Savarino did with the Elmwood Village Boutique Hotel. I know Marilyn has made a request, I have even made a request and still nothing. The person who is heading this up for Norstar is our formrer Council President Jim Pitts, so its business as usual in Buffalo.

  • Pauldub

    Sorry to digress but I must address Martin’s comment. You are a rookie. I get up at 5 and have 2 cups and a travel mug by the time I leave for work @ 6:45. I have had 3 cups since then. And I am not talking flavored stuff either. 1 Heaping scoop of heavy duty columbian for every 2 cups.
    Thank you all for tolerating this digression.

  • Marilyn…
    “It amazes me when folks who are not impacted by crime in a specific area make statements as yours”
    I think you miss the point of what I was trying to say…
    You paint a picture like that all that exists in this complex is a high level of crime… Like I said…I know people who live in the complex as well…they don’t view it like that….I’ve hung out there with them…so even though I don’t live there, I think I can have an opinion on such…and I guess crime there does impact me because I have friends who live in the complex…
    People from all parts of the city and wny make comments or share their opinion with others who post here…I believe you share comments about things outside of the nighborhood in which you live…
    Because one doesn’t live in the WV isn’t really a disqualifier on how crime anywhere impacts the quality of life Buffalo and WNY as a whole…
    You have to understand…we are all in this together…what goes on in Sloan, Black Rock, Akron, Riverside…etc… impacts us all on many levels…

  • They negative viewpoints and attitudes are entertaining at least and disgusting at most. Any progress in Western NY is good. The fear of change and anything new has kept this city in the state that it currently exists in and has existed in for years. Wake up and realize that change is good for our economy and our city.

  • hamp

    Progress is good.
    But not all projects are good.

  • fluffy

    C Byrd youre in fantasy land my friend…waake up…it is brutal over there

  • Fantasy land…heck I thought I was at work….

  • matt b

    C. Byrd:
    I have friends in the DA’s office and BPD who have told me that the complex is plagued with crime. I agree that the best observations are those made by people personally affected by the conditions – but in this case I think its fairly clear that many residents don’t feel the same way your friends do.
    We are all in this together – and in many cases, especially in the crime-filled neighborhoods, it takes people who don’t live there to recognize and act upon the problems – b/c judging by the present conditions, the current residents are either afraid, overwhelmed or incapable of fighting the problems alone. If they want help – and they need it – they can’t take on the attitude “you don’t know what your talking about b/c you don’t live here”. Why? B/c oftentimes the people who do know what they’re talking about do nothing.

  • mj worthingon

    or in other words, not all projects are progress 😉

  • Matt B…
    I too have police friends…this post prompted me to call one of them and flatly ask if the Shoreline has any problems greater than what plagues the rest of the city…in a word or two…they said nothing more or nothing less…
    I guess I am not making myself clear…but what else is new….
    But I will try again…there is crime there…but promoting it as an epicenter for all the ills that plague the West Side in terms of crime is wrong… It is like saying that if you live there, you surely have to be involved in crime… Which in a way is uncool to the good decent honest folks who live there trying trying to make their way…
    That is all…

  • matt b

    C. Byrd:
    I certainly didn’t infer that everyone in the Shoreline apartments must be involved in crime…and I don’t think anyone else did either. I said that the residents not involved in the crime cannot fight the battle alone – everyone must become involved and aware.

  • And we do, matt b. Thanks for your observations. Chris, when you inferred commenting on areas other than where one lives, how do you know if people are not already working in these areas, as well?
    I have yet to see you at a meeting at Holy Cross. And I take exception to your comment:
    “But I will try again…there is crime there…but promoting it as an epicenter for all the ills that plague the West Side in terms of crime is wrong… It is like saying that if you live there, you surely have to be involved in crime… Which in a way is uncool to the good decent honest folks who live there trying trying to make their way…”
    No one said that everyone who lives there is involved in crime. That’s why we work together to affect positive change with the likes of the BPD, DA, NYS Police, Common Council, and many others. Without identifying hotspots we turn our backs on possible remediation. And that’s a damn shame.
    Do you think the folks in the WV are a bunch of elitists that do not care about the neighboring communities? It would seem so by your commentary. And, let me add, it’s so far from the truth.
    I personally receive calls from Fillmore, Lovejoy, University, Masten and other districts besides the one I live in – Ellicott. I also receive these calls at all hours, not just in the office. And, many are referred to me by the Common Councilmembers, DA, BPD, and others.
    They know we can get the job done if we work together. It’s not as if I’m sitting in my living room, chomping bon-bons and complaining that someone trampled my daisys. I’m in the thick of things like so many other Buffalonians who care, not only for their own neighborhoods, but the entire city. You’re involved like that, Chris. So, why the rebuff? Let’s work together and remember to keep an open eye and mind to assure our neighbors, no matter where they live, have the same advantages as everyone else.

  • Perry Fisher

    Good Luck, Buffalo! You will always be in my heart.

  • This area of the city is absolutely key. Itis perfectly situated between the downtown core, Allentown, and the waterfront. I would love to buy a house around Virginia St and south toward Johnson Park and downtown, but I need some assurance that my property value is going to be secure. This project is the one thing that has the potential to reassure me about investing in a home here.
    I think Mr. Pitts would be wise to let the public care about this project. Get a lot of opinions, and come up with a plan for success that we residents are truly confident in. Neighbors will feel more confident living near by, and weill feel justified win working to improve the district. You need a diversity of solutions. There are people around who care, and who will work for the neighborhood.
    The neighbors, their opinions and involvement should be viewed as an asset rather than a curse.

  • Certainly, you have a justifiable point, dcoffee. Just to give you an idea about the upswing of the area:
    I live on Johnson Park and have seen, at the very least, a 23% return/increase in property values in the past two years. One double on the park, originally sold at $85K in 2004, just turned at $139K. This has everything to do with the amount of work the neighbors have performed on creating a safer and secure area to live in.
    And we haven’t stopped yet. Over 300 arrests have been made since the first of the year. Our blogsite provides tips and tricks for the residents to assure they know what to do and how to identify suspicious persons and activities within 30 seconds in order to make every call to 911 something that police can use for effective crime abatement. We work with every entity of crime, safety, and housing from the city level to county and on to the state. We also desire to enrich the lives of every resident of the Lower West Side and have been approached by other blocks to become part of the WVRG.
    It’s not going to stop – just become more enhanced as more folks move into the area, providing new ideas and energy. Please click on the name and visit our website, then click the button marked “Blogsite” for more information. We welcome visitors, new residents, new homeowners, and new partners for success and the future. Let us know how we can be of service to you.

  • Ron

    I understand why you’d want to try forcing out criminals from that complex (I wouldn’t want that stuff going near me either), but won’t they end up living somewhere nearby in that same area? For all the well-meaning efforts, is anything accomplished? Or even if they’re “driven out” of West Village and end up living on the East Side is the city as a whole better off? Realistically, people who unfortunately choose crime as their way of life will need housing and business infrastructure just like everyone else. I don’t think making them move will motivate a change in career or lifestyle. Just wondeing if the efforts against them are worth the time and risk.

  • It has to be a connective effort, one that is already underway. Through true partnership, not only with law enforcement, but also with other neighborhoods throughout our city, the message is clear. Crime is no longer tolerated.
    This is an amazing city with even more amazing citizens. All through the past 12 – 20 years, when all hope seemed lost, there were, and still exists, pockets of neighborhood groups and associations who do not give up in the face of adversity, and who will continue the fight for safer, cleaner, and more cohesive neighborhoods.
    That’s why efforts like the “New Buffalo” and others can now lift their heads high and let out a crow.
    What would be the other solution, Ron? Would it be better to stay behind closed doors and allow neighborhoods to decompose while we poo-poo any proactivity? Should we all cram on the bus out to the suburbs, or, better yet, another city?
    My group works with others throughout the city. We recognize each other and can’t prevent a simple, casual greeting from turning into a mini-planning session. If you believe in something, it is your responsibility to allow it to grow, as long as that “something” is beneficial to the masses.
    There are other issues we need to deal with and some that are already underway. Legislative change for the way rooming houses are operated and the tenants are treated. Referral sysems for those found in housing that can only be compared to squalor, referrals for a better place to live. The attention that is now being directed to deconstruction in order to make way for affordable housing. Lobbying to assure our homeless have entry back into the world we live in and can sustain themselves in the future.
    The solution is connective and comprehensive. Way too long to discuss here. We have resources, we just need to demand accountability from some and learn how to connect others to assure these resources are utilized in a fashion that creates opportunities while providing those safe and secure neighborhoods.
    Volunteer…somewhere….with an organization that truly services the needs of the community….help visions grow into reality.
    In 2002 I prsented our new councilman with a freezer bag half-filled with crack-sacks and needles. Those items were found on the green in Johnson Park within a three day window. It was a collective effort, utilizing individual skills of the neighbors, that allowed for a rebirth of the West Village. Would it be better if we turned ur heads and said, “Oh well, at least those issues are across Niagara Street.”?
    Absolutely not. You can’t just concentrate on the street you live on or the couple of streets surrounding your property. If you find success, you have the responsibility to share the experiences and assist others. Otherwise, why even exist?

  • Gio D.

    Why couldn’t we just tear this whole block up and build high rise condos/apartments, offices and retail ALL Close to Niagara Street. Then this new developement would be a WOW Factor.
    Typcial Buffalo with small dreams for small minded people and then wonder why all the normal people have left and do not want to return to a backwards thinking town with no vision and the balls to even make change for fear of the losers who don’t like change or have their own opinion and so on.
    Grow Up Buffalo and get some BALLS to better yourselfs.

  • bman

    Why can’t the roofs remain as they are? This ugly Metal (?) roofing or cornice, or whatever, is ghastly. Its all wrong.