Queen Latifah Backed Development Project Moves Forward In Newark

rita gardens queen latifah newark development projects
An old rendering of the project | via Newark CEDC

Jersey Digs reported last September that Dana Elaine Owens, best known as Queen Latifah, is proposing a project called Rita Gardens for the Springfield Avenue corridor in Newark’s South Ward. Now, plans for the project are moving forward.

According to a legal notice, 650 Springfield Ave, LLC has applied to the Newark Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA) for variances regarding the two-building project. One of the buildings is slated to be a four-story mixed-use structure with 59 residential units and 28 surface parking spaces, while the other is set to be five stories tall and include 56 residential units, with 30 parking spaces provided in a garage on the ground floor.

A presentation published by the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation in 2016 stated that GS Developers and Queen Latifah were behind the project. A source familiar with the development, who request anonymity, confirmed to Jersey Digs that GonSosa Development of Union County, which is listed on its website as being affiliated with GS Developers, will partner with Queen Latifah for the project. According to the source, the buildings will also include a theater room, a community room, a fitness center, a patio area, and free Wi-Fi for residents when completed in 2018.

Records from the State of New Jersey show that 650 Springfield Ave, LLC was registered in February 2016 out of Monmouth Junction, a small Middlesex County community where Queen Latifah owns a house, according to Variety.

The development proposal calls for developing the buildings on several lots, including 650-656 Springfield Avenue and 718-722 South 17th Street, many of which are vacant and currently owned by the City of Newark. However, a few of the tracts are owned by the Blue Sugar Corporation, according to city records, which is registered out of the same Monmouth Junction address as Queen Latifah, Inc.

The properties are located near the Irvington border, just a few blocks from West Side Park and the recently-opened Save-A-Lot supermarket. NJ Transit’s go25 express bus service to Newark Penn Station and the Irvington Bus Terminal serves the area, in addition to Bus 25 to Maplewood and Bus 96 to Roseville and Chancellor Avenues.

An Essex County native, Queen Latifah was born in Newark, and was raised in neighboring East Orange. She attended Shiloh Baptist Church in Bloomfield, according to New Jersey Monthly, and graduated from Irvington High School, where her mother, Rita Owens, was a teacher. Whether or not Rita Gardens is named for Owens is not yet clear. Latifah’s Flavor Unit production company was headquartered in Jersey City for nearly 20 years before relocating to Florida.

Representatives from GonSosa Construction and Development and Queen Latifah did not return requests for comment. The Newark ZBA will hear the proposal during its meeting on Thursday, February 23rd at 7:00pm at City Hall.


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  1. That’s good but I would have thought she would have went back into the area and brought the block and built house from the ground up the city is being taken over by the corporate America condos and stores that really the poor won’t shop at look at Halsey street broad street is changing before your eyes but it’s not my money so I guess we have to take what we can get at this point black people better wake up in a moment you won’t have a place to go in newark

    • Yep ..just like in Harlem and Bed Sty in Brooklyn. Every thing goes full circle in 30 yrs 85 %of Black Americans will be in Georgia, Mississippi and Alabama

  2. This is absolutely wonderful. I believe within the next five years the city of Newark will be an absolute model city and every other city in America will use this as a model. I hope the residents of Newark are the first to get these construction jobs on this project.

  3. We the people of Newark will have no where to live soon. Prices have gone over the top so they can be knocked down,with an expensive new building replacing it…not fair..

  4. People tired of driving down from their houses on the hill….keeping them cool…keeping them warm…buying gas for their cars..morning sun in face…sun setting in their face when going back home after work…slipping and sliding…work in Newark…live in Newark…saves money.

  5. I just hope this project is to help better the lives of current Newark and the surrounding area’s residents. And not just a ploy to get wealthier residents in to help with this gentrification that is happening in Newark right now.

    • You are 100% right look at my two replies in 30 years 85% Black Americans will be right where they want us to be in three states down south Mississipp, Alabama and Georgia

  6. The area is a vacant, so building anything there is better than leaving it as it is. I’m old enough to remember when that area was thriving. In regard to the comment about poor people not being able to afford to live and shop there, hopefully projects like this will stimulate bringing some commerce back to the area, resulting in more employment for the residents. I think it was Sharpe James who said, “It doesn’t do us any good if everybody in the neighborhood is poor.”

  7. This reporter should be an investigative reporter . He dug up a lot of information and connected the dots.
    ? great article.
    Shaq and the Queen B give back to Newark ?
    Now can you imagine if they moved back to Newark?


  9. I think it’s a Great Idea ..sad to say We don’t appreciate what we have and maybe it’s for the better .. I was born and raised here and invested here I could of went anywhere. . But I want to bring it back .. we don’t clean our streets. We don’t respect people property. . I clean around my neighbors. .I help my elders and I want it to be known that #allnewarkait bad

  10. Bless the Queen!From when I was 21 an started Job in Law Enforcement!Queen music INSPIRATE Me to be a Good Officer!!Now Again At 51yrs old!!She MOTIVATES ME AGAIN!!Building these Townhouse in The memories of Her Mother and We’re They Started From!!PRAISE you Queen Bless You Queen!!You is a True Shining Star to The South Ward of Newark NJ!!Again..From Day 1 when I started my Career!!I RELIZED You Was A Queen!!Much Respect for You & Shac for The Building on Springfeild Ave!!Respect Respect..Thank You Queen…


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