The "starving artist" seems to be a timeless phrase. It's not uncommon to hear of dancers, painters, sculptors, musicians, actors, among other artists, struggling to find reasonably priced housing and work space to meet their needs, especially in the NYC metropolitan area, which has the highest standard of living cost in the US.
People like this shouldn't feel the need to gravitate toward old industrial buildings just to find a place to sleep or work... it is not conducive for them or for the community
Artspace USA is considered the leading national non-profit real estate developer for the arts, whose mission is to foster, preserve and promote affordable housing and work space for artists, as well as other performing arts facilities. They were initially started in Minneapolis in 1979 as an advocacy agency but evolved into a real estate developer when they realized the issue needed more significant attention.
The organization has so far completed 24 projects from the East to West coast, with one of the most recent projects being in Patchogue, NY (about 50 miles east of Manhattan). This $18 million dollar project was able to provide 45 apartment spaces for rent in downtown Patchogue. There is also retail space available for rent at street level, which is mainly allocated for local artists and their businesses.
This is a really exciting project because it simultaneously provides an opportunity to enhance the cultural and economic setting of the local community, not to mention that it sets a great precedent for future Green development. ArtSpace housing development projects usually involve the restoration of older buildings, and are revamped according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design System) standards. These ecological building standards help save tenants additional money from their monthly utilities expenditures.
So far, the project has attracted a diverse range of tenants from various walks of life. 23-year old Jay Terry, an artist and recent graduate from SUNY Binghampton, moved into one of the studio apartments with his girlfriend. Dana Flaherty, a 34-year old social worker and photographer, moved with her 6-year old daughter into one of the 2-bedroom apartments. She's observed that as a result of the new development, several art galleries, wineries and restaurants have opened up. The downtown seems to have a completely different atmosphere now, "I feel like I'm in Brooklyn, or Manhattan."
For more info about ArtSpace and the other cool projects they've completed, check out their website -----> http://www.artspace.org/ & http://artspacepatchogue.org/
There was also a great NY Times article published just yesterday about the Artspace Patchogue project ----> http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/realestate/13Long-Island-artspace.html?_r=2&src=twrhp