City invests in Dorchester artist workspace, creates new housing opportunities

by Liz Hughes

The city of Boston is investing in Dorchester’s’ Humphreys Street Studios, a move that will not only preserve artist workspaces, but also turn the vacant backlot of the studio property into below-market, income-restricted housing. Boston Mayor Michelle Wu and the Mayor’s Offices of Arts and Culture, Housing and Economic Opportunity and Inclusion made the announcement this week. 

Bill Madsen Hardy of New Atlantic Development, curated the acquisition which was funded by BlueHub Capital and LISC, along with a $1.7 million investment from the city of Boston’s American Rescue Plan, Inclusionary Development Policy (IDP), and Housing Boston 2030 funds, according to a press release. The deal secures the workspace of more than 45 artists and creative small businesses within the studio’s 26,000 square feet. 

“The arts and culture sector has continued to struggle to re-emerge following the pandemic, but with this funding combined with support from our partners, our arts community will be able to continue working in Boston,” Wu said. “We are grateful for this partnership with BlueHub Capital and LISC, and for the opportunity we have to provide new, below market, income-restricted housing and secure workplaces for our artists and creative community.”

New Atlantic will develop the parcel adjacent to the studio into 10 income-restricted housing units, four of which will be sold to those earning less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI), three to individuals earning less than 100% AMI and three to individuals earning less than 120% AMI. 

To ensure neighborhood residents have a voice in the design, affordability levels and homeownership opportunities, the developer has pledged to engage in community discussions and welcomes their involvement. 

“With our founding artists’ recent passing, it seemed certain we would be displaced,” said Dorchester resident, HSS artist and scenic designer Cristina Todesco. “But, with guidance, we organized, sought community support and partnered with New Atlantic to find a creative solution.” 

Boston’s chief of housing Sheila Dillon called the project a “unique opportunity.” 

“We are thankful for the work of both our internal teams and external partners who helped make this project possible,” she said. “When looking at preserving artist workspaces, creating below market, income-restricted units and incorporating a vacant lot, New Atlantic was the right partner. They specialize both in building affordable housing and in supporting artist communities. With them, Uphams Corner gets to have both.”

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