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Artist lofts ready for action

Posted by Travis Andersen  June 29, 2009 11:00 AM

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Artists will soon move into the Irving Street Studios.

By Travis Andersen
Town Correspondent

The city plans to open a new affordable loft space for artists this summer, a project designed to spruce up the downtown area and help the local economy.

Some of the artists moving into the Irving Street Studios hobnobbed with city officials at a recent open house on the site, located at 30 Irving St., just four blocks from the Malden Center T station on the Orange Line.

Train proximity and affordable prices were a big draw for the artists, according to Deborah Burke, project director for economic development in Malden.

"The exciting part about this project is that all of the owners came from outside of Malden," Burke said in an email. "To us, it's just more proof that we are on the right track with these various downtown improvements."

The space - a former convent built in the 1920s - has nine units, between about 550 and 850 square feet. Sale prices range from $120,000 to $125,000, with a $10,000 down payment - first-time home buyers are eligible for $7,500 in down payment assistance.

Mortgages start between $900 to $1,200 per month, including taxes, insurance, and condo fees. The artists range from their mid-20s to age 60, with backgrounds in writing, music, painting, sculpture, and art therapy, among other disciplines.

Eligible artists can earn no more than $46,300 per year - $52,950 for a couple - and must receive a "substantial portion" of their annual income from creative work, according to the Malden Redevelopment Authority.

Burke said it appears that the city has sold all nine units, with five closings scheduled for July 15.

The closing artists are Krista Bebezas, an art therapist who works with children and adults; CD Collins, a spoken word artist and fiction writer; Richard Favaloro, a painter and graphic animator; Diane Leblanc, a visual artist working in watercolor and collage; and Doug Purdy, a fiction writer.

The Redevelopment Authority bought the space in 2005 for $200,000. The $1.7 million build-out lasted a year. The city received $800,000 in federal funds, as well as financing from Salem Five, a bank serving Malden and surrounding communities.

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