There’s not too much that singer, rapper, actress and all-around media maven Queen Latifah can’t accomplish. Hit movies? Check. Classic records from hip-hop to jazz? Got that. EGOT status? Two down, two to go!
Now, the 52-year-old multifaceted entertainer will be adding real estate developer to her resume after she recently returned to her hometown of Newark, New Jersey to build affordable homes in the form of townhouses.
Latifah, born Dana Elaine Owens, joined Life Assets Development and GonSosa Development to help build what will be referred to as RISE Living. The name bears significant meaning, with the acronyms standing for “Rita is Still Everywhere” as a tribute to her NJ schoolteacher mom, Rita Lamae, who passed away back in 2018. The development itself has been in the making even before then, with Latifah stating that she first began looking to invest in the property in 2006. After it finally went public in 2016, it would take a few more years before construction could began. Operating as co-president of BlueSugar Corp., the “Ladies First” emcee was able to finally get the ball rolling on a project that’s proven to be personal on many levels.
More on this groundbreaking housing development in NJ by Queen Latifah below, via North Jersey News:
“‘I’m proud to be from here,’ Latifah said, joined for the ceremony by New Jersey Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and other leaders.
‘I grew up around here playing in West Side Park, a block away,’ Latifah reminisced. ‘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?’
Situated along Springfield Avenue outside of the city’s downtown, the 76-unit mixed-use project will include 20 three-family townhomes at market rate prices, with rents starting at $1,800 a month.”
It appears that Latifah’s efforts are arriving with perfect timing. A 2021 study by the Rutgers Center on Law, Inequality, and Metropolitan Equity revealed that NJ needs 16,000 more low-rent units in order to properly meet the demand of residents in need. Data also shows that 60% of Brick City dwellers spend more than a third of their income paying for housing.
Pre-leasing for the market-rate units begins in early July, and the townhouses are expected to be completed sometime between September and December of this year. The full project will see completion in 2023, and those interested in joining the waiting list can apply over at RISEliving.com.
That’s not all! Queen Latifah plans to also expand into senior housing and LEED-certified buildings, stating, “[We want to] really continue to bring us into the future and give the youth an opportunity to stay right here and create and grow.”
Way to go, Queen!
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