NEWARK, NJ (PIX11) — Dana Owens, better known as hip hop legend Queen Latifah, returned to her stomping ground Tuesday to break ground on a housing development meant to elevate and revitalize her native city of Newark.
“What’s always been important to me was that I could build something in this city that I can live in,” Queen Latifah said at the groundbreaking ceremony. “That Queen Latifah could live in, not Dana. Dana could live anywhere if you know Dana -you know Dana could roll.”
After experiencing a delay due to COVID, construction at 650 Springfield Avenue officially started earlier this year. The development, called RISE LIVING, is a collaboration between Life Assets Development, Gonsosa and the Blue Sugar Corporation, which was co-founded by Queen Latifah.
The singer and actress is throwing her star power behind the cause to beautify the once-widely ignored block and hopes to inspire others to do the same.
“Newark is ours,” she said. “Newark is yours and I don’t want people to think that they can’t live in their own communities.”
RISE LIVING is part of a wave of ongoing development across Newark where a multi-billion dollar revitalization plan is now underway.
When the development is complete, it will bring 76 housing units to the neighborhood, including 1900 square feet of ground floor space for non-profit organizations. It will also include over a dozen affordable housing units
It’s just the first of many projects in the pipeline for Latifah and her development partners, who want to create housing opportunities for incomes that reflect the community.
“We can’t price everyone out of Newark who has grown here and lived here all of our lives,” she told reporters.
Pre-leasing for RISE LIVING is expected to start in July.