BUFFALO, N.Y. — Several protesters gathered inside the former Shoreline Apartments on Niagara Street in Buffalo Monday to show support for John Schmidt, the only one still living in the complex.
Protesters expressed their anger with Norstar Development Corporation, which is tearing down the 40-year-old building, and a number of others, to make room for new modern housing. The corporation argues the complex is beyond repair and no longer livable.
Ralliers disagree, and say while the buildings are old, they're still structurally sound and just need some renovations. They also say Norstar has also forced hundreds of residents to move out of their apartments and find new places to live.
Schmidt was in Buffalo City Court Monday morning, fighting to overturn his recent eviction he received last week from Norstar. He says despite what the developer believes, he is not leaving voluntarily, but will go if escorted by marshals and under certain conditions.
"I don't actually want to stay. What I want is for Norstar to do the right thing. I want them to apologize to the 222 families they kicked out unnecessarily, under false pretenses, for a plan they didn't even have permission to proceed with," said Schmidt.
In response, Norstar leaders say, “We are pleased that we can bring people very nice, new affordable housing in the downtown business corridor. We do have to relocate these people to rebuild housing, people will be able to come back, but they do have to qualify under that state's section 42 low income housing regulations. But at this point, all of our residents are income qualified."
Norstar also says Schmidt is not safe living in that 300-unit complex by himself, and qualifies for relocation assistance.
Schmidt is due back in court on Thursday. Norstar says it hopes to resume the project in the spring.