Queen Latifah returned to her hometown of Newark, New Jersey to help rebuild the blocks of her old stomping grounds. After being in the works for over a decade, she was able to break ground for her affordable housing complexes that she is bringing to the Brick City through BlueSugar Corp., which she is co-president of, Life Assets Development and GonSosa Development. On April 26, she hosted a groundbreaking event for her 76 mixed-use units that will include four townhouse clusters that will comprise of 60 two- and three-bedroom market-rate apartments, 16 apartments that are considered affordable housing and professional office spaces for businesses, healthcare and nonprofit organizations. Units in the 20 three-family townhouses start at $1,800 a month.
Returning back to her neighborhood to help revitalize it was an emotional experience for the Grammy-winning rapper.
“I grew up around here playing in West Side Park, a block away,” she told NorthJersey.com. “My grandfather’s hardware store was blocks from here. I drove past this block. I saw what was needed on this block, houses that weren’t lived in. Some were really dilapidated, and so I thought, ‘Why not here?'”
Queen Latifah, born Dana Owens, began exploring investing in properties back in 2006, but the redevelopment project didn’t come into fruition until 2016. Construction was scheduled to start two years ago but things didn’t go as planned.
“It took a while, but we stayed with it and it changed and it morphed, and we stayed with what we needed to do, and the timing is right right now for this place to rise,” the Just Wright star said.
The name of the development, RISE Living, pays homage to her later mother Rita Owens and stands for “Rita is Still Everywhere.”
This project is helping meet Newark’s dire need for affordable housing. In order to meet the city’s housing needs, an additional 16,000 affordable apartments need to be built according to a 2021 study by the Rutgers Center on Law, Inequality, and Metropolitan Equity.