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Copyright (c) 2005 Globe Newspaper Company

The Boston Globe
June 17, 2005


Thomas C. Palmer Jr., Globe Staff

Midway Studios, 89 apartments with work space for artists and their families, opened yesterday in the Fort Point Channel area's Channel Center complex. This time it's legal.

"Everybody living here was living here illegally," Mayor Thomas M. Menino recalled of the arts community astride A Street in South Boston. It was years ago, Menino was still a city councilor, and artists occupied many aging industrial buildings not zoned for residential use. "We blinked about what the regulations were at that time," he said.

But all that has changed. Now, as the slogan for yesterday's event put it, "Home is where the art is."

Artists rent and even own homes in the area. In 2003, Beacon Capital Partners LLC, which is developing two rows of old Boston Wharf Co. brick structures into residential, office, and commercial space, gave three buildings in the luxury complex to the artists' community.

Those three six-story buildings are now Midway Studios, including not only four floors of 1,000- to 2,200-square-foot studio and living spaces, but room for a cafe, retail shops, and a performing arts theater. "To become a world-class city, you need the arts," said David Palmer, a painter whose family lives in the Fort Point Channel area and soon will be moving to Midway Studios. After five years, Palmer and others will have the option of buying their apartments. The Fort Point Cultural Coalition Inc., an artists' group, and Keen Development Corp., of Cambridge, jointly developed the $26 million project.

Thirty-six of the units will fall into the "affordable" category. More than two-thirds of the 89 apartments are spoken for, said Bob Kuehn, president of Keen Development.

Kuehn surveyed the unfinished, two-level theater space, open where concrete support columns had been removed, and imagined an intimate nightclub, such as the defunct Nightstage in Cambridge.

"I saw Kris Kristofferson there, and it was the best concert I ever saw in my life," he recalled. Midway Studios developers hope to lease their space to an operator to help produce revenue. Channel Center, which is in the first of two phases of luxury condominiums in adjacent buildings, will get 40 parking spaces from Midway, plus a lot of the foot traffic and the life that an artists' community brings, benefiting all the new residents, said Douglas S. Mitchell, a senior vice president at Beacon Capital.

Cameron Sawzin, a cellist who lives on Channel Center Street, was networking amid the exposed brick and beams during yesterday's celebration.

She hopes to put together events where musicians will play and artists can show and sell their work during the breaks.

"I moved here because of this building," she said.

Thomas C. Palmer Jr. can be reached at

Copyright (c) 2005 Globe Newspaper Company

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