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By: Kristen Mirand
Posted at 6:07 PM, Feb 10, 2023
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Major changes are coming to the seven, 10-story Marine Drive Apartments. One of the Buffalo Waterfront's oldest properties is set to be demolished, taking with it some of the most affordable units left downtown. The Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority is promising to rebuild the complex without pricing out low-income families.
April Muhammad has lived in the apartments for nearly 20 years.
"It needs updates. It needs updates," she said.
Muhammad said the temperature in the building is an issue since they don't have control over the heat.
"It has its issues. It's always hot. Right now, my windows are open because it's so hot," Muhammad said.
Dorein Green has been living here for a few years now, he says the location is a plus for him.
"It's not bad. It's really close to a lot of stuff downtown," Green said.
Now, the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority has hired a development team to transform the 616 apartments.
"We think we're on to something here," Gillian Brown, executive director of BMHA, said.
Brown said this is a plan that has been in the works for a while. About a year ago, he said, they met with residents to learn about what they like and dislike about the development. Then, they conducted studies to see what could be done.
"What we realized is that the development is really a mess. There are virtually no systems in these buildings that are working in the way they were intended to," Brown said.
Brown said one-bedroom apartments are roughly 400 square feet.
"They're very tiny. The electrical system is bad. The plumbing system is bad. The heating system is bad. The roofs need replacing. The grounds are a mess. I could go on," he explained.
Brown said over seven to 10 years, the affordable apartments will be torn down and rebuilt in phases. It is a process that Brown said residents will be involved in. He said they will have residents weigh in on designs and have them tour other affordable apartments in Buffalo.
"Every one of the 616 units will be preserved as affordable housing on the waterfront and everyone who lives there now will get a chance to live there then," he said.
This is a chance for a new home that residents said they are hopeful about.
"I mean that doesn't sound like a bad idea if they're gonna swap everybody over," Green said.
The hope is to start the first phase of construction by early 2024, and pending the design process the plan is to move the first group of residents into the apartments by late 2025. Brown said the goal is to finish all of this no later than 2029 or 2030.