Artists at Dorchester-based Humphreys Street Studios launched a social media campaign in 2021 drawing attention to the potential sale of their property. Another developer now is seeking to acquire the property, retain the studios at existing rents and develop condominiums on a vacant portion of the site. Image courtesy of Humphrey Street Studios

A group of Dorchester artists that’s been fighting to preserve one of Boston’s remaining affordable studio buildings is on the verge of securing a long-term home, with help from a local developer and Boston City Hall.

New Atlantic Development is scheduled to close on the $3 million acquisition of Humphreys Street Studios on Oct. 31. The firm, founded by William Madsen Hardy, plans to preserve the studios while developing housing on a portion of the property to subsidize their affordability.

“We’ve been able to make noise at a time when people were receptive and were able to collaborate with us,” said Josh Rose-Wood, an architect and Humphreys Street Studios tenant for 10 years.

The new owners will receive $434,933 in ARPA funding and $100,000 in city operating funds from the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture toward the studio building purchase. A $1.2-million contribution by the Mayor’s Office of Housing from the city’s inclusionary development fund will subsidize the acquisition of a 10,000-square-foot vacant parcel next to the studios, where New Atlantic plans to build 10 affordable condominiums.

The 50 tenants at Humphreys Street, ranging from fine artists to fabricators, faced potential eviction in 2021 after Weston developer Kendall Realty offered to buy the property from the estates of the studios’ deceased co-founders.

Following a campaign to draw attention to the artists’ plight, Kendall Realty’s offer expired and Hardy stepped in with a redevelopment plan designed to ensure the property’s continuing operation. The sale had originally been scheduled to close last winter, but was delayed because of a legal dispute between the sellers and a commercial abutter.

Hardy said this week he’s moving ahead with the transaction and expects the dispute to be resolved.

Artists showed off their works last summer at a Boston City Hall exhibit designed to spotlight the issue of artist displacement, as affordable studio spaces are acquired for redevelopment into housing and other higher-income uses.

Rents will remain unchanged under the new ownership, said Cristina Todesco, a set designer and Humphreys Street tenant.

“We’re immersed in getting the building cleaned out for the sale, so it’s a clean slate when New Atlantic completes the sale,” Todesco said.

Dorchester Artists on Verge of Anti-Displacement Win

by Steve Adams time to read: 1 min