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State officials halt Shoreline evictions

Albany has ordered a stop to the evictions of residents of the Shoreline apartments.  Last week, Norstar Development had informed 175 residents that they had six months to move out to make way for a new housing project.

Leonard Skrill of  the state Division of Housing and Community Renewal says his agency notified the owner to end evictions.

"And refrain from any action that may encourage the relocation of an existing tenant."

Skrill's comments may have put residents at ease, for the time being.

"A lot of us that are here are seniors with disabilities and we're in single bedrooms," said Jessie Gates, a Shoreline resident who describes himself as a low-income disabled veteran. He worries that Norstar won't make accommodations for many of the single-apartment dwellers at Shoreline.  The Norstar plan calls for more apartments with multiple bedrooms but substantially fewer apartments overall.

The firm is finishing Phase One of what will eventually be a nearly $60 million project on the edge of Downtown.

"This process must minimize any negative impact on current residents," said Councilmember David Franczyk at Tuesday night's meeting of the Community Development Committee.
"This project cannot move forward without the state's approval."

All of the financing for the project is coming through Albany. The replacement buildings will be much less dense and consist of apartment buildings mixed with buildings looking like town houses, all with more green space. Though some confusion remains over the fate of some residents, most agree that change is needed at Shoreline after four decades.

"That building is not going to last too long," offered resident Migdalia Sanchez.

"I see my balcony, there's a hole lying onto it where it's going to fall."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.