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February 13, 2023
BY MAX FAERY
Buffalo, N.Y. (WBEN) - Removing the outdated apartment buildings, building new affordable housing, and integrating the property with the public are the main priorities for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority for the future of the space where the Marine Drive Apartments currently sit.
"Right now, [there are] 7 10-story towers, with 88 units each, that are very old," said Gillian Brown, Executive Director of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority (BMHA), "They are in very bad condition. We spent a year trying to map out a way to renovate them. And at the end of that process, what we realized is that it's a comparable cost to demolish them and build new because there is virtually not a single system in the complex that is functioning properly."
According to Brown, this property must be used for affordable housing. "Under the terms of various state regulations, it needs to be used for affordable housing."
The idea of transforming the property solely into a public space is not feasible. However, there are other ways to make the property more beneficial to the public.
"Right now, Marine Drive is like a little island. It's not a place people walk through, it's a place people walk around," said Brown. "We want this to be more woven into the fabric of the waterfront. This could be a neighborhood that's part of the waterfront, which would mean restoring the grid pattern, leaving open public spaces, having places for people to gather."
Ultimately, this project can only seek to benefit the residents and the public, except for the inconvenience of the residents moving between apartments when they take the buildings down two at a time. Brown mentions that the buildings themselves will have public spaces and community rooms.
Brown summarizes, "It will ultimately benefit the public because it will mean there is a neighborhood on the waterfront and not this island that people walk around to get to the other side of."
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown added that having the opportunity for all levels of income to have access to attractive landscape and waterfront views is an essential facet to the project. "Waterfront housing is an essential element. People have lived on the waterfront for decades. We don't want to take that opportunity from low-income residents," said the mayor. "So as we transform the Marine Drive apartments, we will transform them in place. We will not displace the people that are living there and we will continue to give them waterfront living options, but waterfront living options that are upscale that are attractive that are quality, but at the same time affordable."