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Macedon may be home to Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz' new arts center

Aug 9, 2019
Originally published on August 9, 2019 11:53 am

A project with a lot of star power behind it may soon be coming to the town of Macecon.

Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Alicia Keys and her husband, hip-hop recording arist and music producer Kasseem Dean, known professionally as Swizz Beatz, are in the process of buying a 100-plus-acre former industrial site on Route 31.

That's where they want to locate a music and art campus for up-and-coming musicians and artists.

Plans call for a performing arts center, classroom space, cafeteria, an art exhibit, and eventually, a dormitory for students and staff. They would be renovating three existing buildings at the site.

Attorney Linda Shaw is representing the couple in the process of trying to get the necessary zoning approvals from the town.

"I think the Town Board was very excited last night," she said. "We got a very positive reception."

The project is part of Keys and Dean's ongoing philanthropic efforts to give artists a break in a challenging market.  In 2016, Dean created an art fair in which artists received 100 percent of their sales proceeds. 

The art exhibit hall that is envisioned as part of the Macedon campus would be the permanent home for the couple's personal art collection. Shaw said the exhibit would be open to the public.

"It's an amazing use for the street," she said, ''because that street was part of the Underground Railroad and their art collection is an African American art collection." 

According to Shaw, Keys and Dean have been looking for some time for the right property for their project.  Once Dean saw the Macedon site, he acted quickly.

"He flew in on a helicopter to Canandaigua about a month ago and took a limousine from Canandaigua to Macedon, got out, looked at the property and apparently said, 'This is it; this is the property I want to buy,' " said Shaw.

Keys and Dean want to act quickly on the project, she said, and hope to have all the approvals they need from the town by the end of August.