LOCATION: Colts Neck, NJ
SIZE: 7,882 square feet, 6 bedrooms, 5 full and 3 half bathrooms
YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Grammy-winning rapper turned Emmy- and Oscar-nominated actress turnedmass-marketed daytime chat show hostess Queen Latifah rang in the New Year by listing her New Jersey estate with an asking price of $2,399,999.
Miz Latifah—née Dana Owens—acquired the 9.52 acre spread in affluent Colts Neck (NJ) in June 2001. By car, The Queen's house is conveniently about 20 miles from the Jersey Shore and, not quite as conveniently, almost 55 miles due south from Midtown Manhattan and nearly 70 miles from the center of Philadelphia. All the numerous property record data bases Your Mama poked around show she shelled out a wacky $2,142,551 for the estate that occupies a roomy corner parcel in a small, un-gated enclave of similarly sized and, in some cases, almost identical mini-mansions. It does not take a PhD in arithmetic or a hardworking bejeweled abacus to determine that if that recorded purchase price is accurate the property has gained very little value in the dozen years of Miz Latifah's ownership.
Current digital marketing materials show The Queen's brick-faced mini-manse measures 7,882 square feet with six bedrooms and five full and three half bathrooms plus four (gas) fireplaces. There is garage space for up to five cars as well as off-street parking for at least a dozen more in the circular drive at the front and a secondary, garage-access motor court tucked around on the west side of the house. The 23-room residence—due to its murky vernacular, let's call it a Transitional Contemporary, shall we?—stands two stories tall at the front and drops to a clunky three at the back with a fully finished, walk-out basement level.
Double front doors open into a voluminous double-height foyer with hardwood floors and a swooping, curved staircase. The sculptural banister on the staircase and the lack of ceiling moldings make it clear to even to most architecturally uninformed that despite the architectural ambiguities of the exterior, the interior spaces are trying very hard to be contemporary.
The central foyer, flanked by a front-facing formal dining room and a flexi-use room furnished in listing photos with a pedigreed baby grand piano,* passes under a bridge that connects the two wings of the upper level family quarters before it steps down into a narrow yet airy double-height living room. The loungey space is sparely furnished—or, one hopes, staged—with a pair of low-slow sofas and outfitted with more wood floors, a gas fireplaces, and entire walls of floor to ceiling windows that can't help but to flood the room with natural light.
The wood floors continue on into the less formal kitchen complex that encompasses a family room and breakfast area that open to a small deck that overlooks the backyard. Although the abode's interior—uhm—architecture strives for modernity and despite the top-grade commercial-style stainless steel appliances, the spacious and well-equipped kitchen dons an unexpectedly traditional overcoat with antiqued bone-colored raised panel cabinetry, perfectly ordinary jet black counter tops of unknown but likely expensive material, and a six-sided center island cook top that incorporates a snack counter with farmhouse-y beadboard detailing. Maybe Your Mama is simply naive—and we have, y'all can be sure, been called far worse by very dignified people—but we half-expected The Queen would have had spent the dough to install a Poliform or Varenna kitchen system in an effort to really sleek the place up but, anyways....
Somewhere, according to listing details, there's an in-law suite and the Queen's master suite on the upper level has hardwood floors, a private veranda, and a lot of wonky ceiling and wall angles that we can't understand or intellectually support. A raised gas fireplace opens on one side to the bedroom and on the other to what appears to be a roomy boudoir. The adjoining master bathroom has vaulted ceilings pierced by at least one sky light, double sinks on either side of a super-sized soaking tub set in front of a large trio of windows, and separate, glassed-in shower stall.
Lower level living spaces include (but are likely not limited to) an informal lounge with a built-in wet bar, direct access to the backyard, and a soul-sucking office-like dropped ceiling treatment.
The backyard, treeless but ringed by a thick wall of shrubbery, centers on a massive, flat concrete terrace and heated, Olympic-length swimming pool with diving board and super-sized Baja shelf. Since there's isn't a tree anywhere near the pool that can provide a shady respite for over-heated poolside sunbathers Miz Latifah installed a long and narrow—and, let's be honest, inelegant and sorta janky looking—open-air tented pavilion along one of the long sides of the rectangular pool.
Your Mama freely admits we have no idea about Miz Latifah's future real estate plans but given that her own momma remains in residence on the East Coast we can't imagine she won't keep some sort of real estate foothold in the the area. Maybe she'll get a pied a terre in Manhattan? That seems somewhat unlikely to Your Mama but stranger things have happened in the wacky world of celebrity real estate.
As far as our research reveals, Miz Latifah continues to own the Wayne, NJ residence she bought in 1992 for $400,000, right around the corner from where Your Mama's momma's cuzzins live and where we've been told repeatedly her momma, Rita, lives. We also find clear evidence her property portfolio includes a small house in Joppa, MD, plus several residential properties in Newark (NJ).
Presumably and by necessity, Miz Latifah—notoriously private and some might say circumspect about her private life—will spend more time on the West Coast as her new, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith-produced daytime chat show tapes in Tinseltown. Good thing for her she already maintains a substantial portfolio of residential real estate in Southern California.
We're not sure if it's the first house she ever owned on the West Coast but in July 2005 Miz Latifah splashed out $5.4 million for a 6,780 square foot house in the Beverly Hills Post Office area that she bought, according to property records, from real estate developer/occasional movie maker Andrew Meirean, the same fella who—Angelos will know what we're talking about here—took over and is in the process of revamping the legendary (and legendarily campy) downtown eatery Clifton's Cafeteria. Miz Latifah's Bev Hills P.O. house was also previously owned by blockbuster movie maker Steven Spielberg and, before that, by Oscar-winning writer/director/producer Robert Zemeckis.
In addition to her home in the B.H.P.O., Miz Latifah's West Coast property portfolio also includes a multi-unit property in the downmarket Inglewood community near downtown L.A. that property records show she co-owns with her long-time personal trainer (and long-rumored former lady-friend), Jeanette Jenkins. She also co-owns, as per property records, with Miz Jenkins a 1930s Spanish cottage in the foothills of Hollywood that she picked up in early 2010 for $1.34 million from actor Henry Simmons.
*Our research shows Miz Latifah purchased the piano at a charity auction. The piano, emblazoned with the New York City skyline, was played by Alicia Keys in the 2009 music video for the five-time platinum hit song Empire State of Mind.
listing photos: Coldwell Banker