She's known for rap skills as well as her roles that have made her a movie and TV star, but now Newark’s own Queen Latifah is adding another title to her resume: real estate developer.
She is working alongside city officials in her hometown to build a modern apartment complex that will include affordable housing for working class families, part of an effort to revitalize the area she grew up in.
"Queen Latifah should be able to live in the city that she was born in," she said Tuesday at a groundbreaking for a new housing complex named Rise Living.
It's the framework for a new Newark that Queen Latifah said she hopes to move back to, possibly one day returning to the place where she was known as Dana Owens — before she made it big.
"This is going to be a lynch pin for so much development in this area," said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka.
The development will include market-rate housing and 16 affordable housing units, with amenities including touchless entry and charging stations for electric cars.
"The affordable housing units are going to be beautiful – just as beautiful as market rate housing," Queen Latifah said. "We can't price everyone out of Newark, who have grown here and lived here all of out lives."
The construction project may also serve as a classroom for students hoping to break into the construction industry.
"To be onsite to see how these things move and operate – I believe is gonna be a good experience," said Maurice Walker, of the Installations 3 Construction Training Center.
Another reason why it was Queen Latifah’s personal mission to redevelop this corner of Springfield Avenue: Back in 2015, this was where 15-year-old Al-Shakeen Woodson was shot and killed following a Mother’s Day motorcycle event.
"To be back on this spot again, the very same spot where a young boy was murdered and we had to tear that property down in the middle of the night," Baraka said.
"This land should be about life, not dilapidation," Queen Latifah said.
Construction is expected to wrap up later in 2022. Renters can start applying for an apartment in July.