A year and half ago, Sean McGrail, 38, found himself traveling from his Brighton apartment to the Institute of Contemporary Art every Thursday night to enjoy free music on the South Boston Waterfront.

Drawn to the growing area because of the museum, several new restaurants and the artistic environment, McGrail purchased a studio there at the luxury condo complex, FP3.

Since then, he’s watched the once-barren South Boston neighborhood blossom.

“I looked at Beacon Hill, but it’s already established,” says McGrail. “The South Boston Waterfront is the last place in Boston an urban planner can come in and develop multiple blocks.”

Since the beginning of 2010, six restaurants, two stores, a gallery and a salon have opened their doors in the Seaport District. More than 17 million square feet of new residential and commercial space is currently under development, according to the Boston Redevelopment Authority, including a 23-acre parcel known as Seaport Square.

“The South Boston Waterfront is emerging as Boston’s newest destination for many reasons, including the artist community, cultural and culinary destinations, and proximity to downtown and Boston’s Harbor,” says Danielle Pillion of the Friends of Fort Point Channel.