Under The Radar - Phasing Out Shoreline


By Francis White 

All good public housing projects near urban downtowns and water fronts must eventually come to an end. That seemingly is what is happening to the Shoreline public housing development in downtown Buffalo.

It is a familiar story; developer manages and then buys public housing project, developer makes promises not to displace current residents, developer begins to slowly act in a way that looks like the displacement of current residents, developer begins displacement process of current residents, current residents are offered the option to apply with no guarantees for new housing in the same (but newly redeveloped housing development) or offered the option to be displaced far out the urban center, current residents fight back and kill displacement process, or current residents get displaced.

It was brought to my attention about the current situation going on at the Shoreline public housing project in downtown Buffalo. A Canadian development firm, Norstar purchased the property a little over 10 years ago and is now looking to begin the second phase of the project’s redevelopment plan. Often times the problem with a redevelopment plan for a public housing project in a desired prime real estate urban area, is that there is usually no plan that involves the redevelopment of the people who currently live there. From a quick glance, this seems to be the case at Shoreline.

If it looks like a dog, walks like a dog, barks like a dog, and smells like a wet dog – it’s probably a dog. Growing up where I grew up, you learned to recognize game immediately when you saw it. If you wanted to survive, you learned very quickly all the different ways someone in the street could try to “run game” or take advantage of you. I can usually tell from a far off distance if someone is being truthful and running game on me or not. There are always two sides to every story, but based on what I’ve heard in the street, it sounds like Norstar is running game on this community.

Some of the things I’m hearing from the street are that Norstar has completed phase I of their redevelopment plan. Some apartment units of Shoreline were demolished to make way for new apartment units. The next round is set to begin, but residents are unsure when. In addition to this, there wasn’t enough new apartment units built to house the residents that were displaced from phase I. Residents are afraid that this next round of demolitions will produce the same results. Residents have recently been told that Norstar will now wait for the population of Shoreline to decrease slowly through some sort of “natural attrition” process. This is the belief that over time and getting frustrated with the housing transfer process, people who live there now will eventually leave out of Shoreline on their own to find some other place to live. If this process takes too long, current Shoreline residents worry that Norstar can do another about face at any time and commence with mass evictions.

I don’t know about you, but it sounds like a bunch of game is being run on the current residents of Shore Line. Say it ain’t so Norstar, say it ain’t so. I’ll keep you guys posted as this story develops further.