Shaquille O’Neal Opens $80 Million High-Rise Apartment Building In His Hometown, Newark

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Written by Dana Sanchez
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Shaq is part of Newark’s construction boom. He wants to beautify his hometown with his new 22-story, $80M high-rise apartment building, and he’s just getting started. Shaquille O’Neal attends the WarnerMedia Upfront at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Basketball superstar-turned-businessman Shaquille O’Neal is part-owner of a new 22-story, $80 million high-rise apartment building that opened over the summer in his native Newark — part of his plan to beautify the city.

The first high-rise apartment building built in Newark in more than 50 years, 50 Rector Park is close to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and has a view of New York City, Radio.com reported.

“It’s going to go down as the most historic building in Newark,” O’Neal once told NJ Advance Media. “It’s going to continue to beautify our city.”

Last week, the former Los Angeles Laker — net worth, $400 million — attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the property. Mayor Ras Baraka also attended.

The 1 million-square-foot building has 169 rental units with studios, one- and two-bedroom apartments renting at $1,800 to $2,895 per month. Sixty percent of the units are already rented out. It also has ground-floor retail space, a co-working lounge, Amazon lockers, private dining room and sky deck, according to Realtor.com. Parking will run $150 a month in the 120-car garage, The Grio reported. You can see photos here.

During a 2018 ceremony introducing the project, O’Neal talked about why he wanted to develop the property. He remembered a conversation with his mother nearly 30 years ago about how the city needed to be rejuvenated.

“”In 1992, me and my mother were visiting some relatives and my mother said to me, ‘I remember when this city used to be beautiful, somebody needs to come by and invest in this city and make it beautiful again,’ he said. “She gave me an elbow to the chest like I’m that somebody.”

After a decade of failures, 2017 was a turning point for residential development in downtown Newark. The city’s construction boom finally took off. A new Whole Foods brought the first full-service grocery store to the area, residential vacancy rates fell, and 400 new rental units came to market that year alone. In the decade prior, there were ambitious development proposals but financing was scarce, according to New York Yimby.

In 2010, there were about 2,000 housing units in downtown Newark. That figure is expected to almost double in the 2020 census, including units under construction. There are also more developments in the works along the periphery of the central business district.

“Cranes are doing slow-mo pirouettes above the skyline,” Justin Davidson wrote for the Intelligencer in 2018. “Clusters of New York developers stroll up and down Broad Street, scouting sites and counting future residents. Glossy renderings circulate again, and this time they’re coming to fruition.”

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There are also toxic chemicals in the drinking water, lead in some buildings with corroded pipes and high levels of a possible carcinogen at a downtown testing site, Davidson wrote.

Shaq’s building is the result of a public-private partnership between himself, Boraie Development, the Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group and the state of New Jersey.

Shaq’s not done. He’s also planning to collaborate with Boraie to build a new $150 million, 350-unit apartment complex as well, The Grio reported. That 35-story building will be located on 777 McCarter Highway, and has been nickamed the “House that Shaq Built,” O’Neal said.

“Can a beaten-down downtown find a way to thrive without getting pummeled by gentrification?” Davidson asked.