MIAMI — Rapper Flo Rida is pouring millions of dollars back into the Miami Gardens neighborhood he grew up in.
“I get goose bumps thinking about it,” said the 43-year-old hip hop star whose given name is Tramar Lacel Dillard. “I mean it feels like I’m dreaming.”
When Flo Rida sang ‘Welcome to My House” no one could have guessed that he would ultimately be talking about a $10 million complex that includes the Studio 183 night club, the old Tony’s restaurant nearby which will be a comedy club with a roof top lounge and the entire shopping center in the area of NW 2nd Avenue and 183rd Street.
The shopping center is called Cloverleaf, and Flo Rida wears a medallion around his neck as it’s symbol.
Most are familiar with the area because of a former bowling alley. For Flo Rida it is located about five miles from where he grew up and is in the same location where he and his mom would run errands.
“Growing up in a less fortunate neighborhood will make you sometimes think that you can’t do great things,” he said. “But my mom, she always instilled in me that, you know, to God through purpose, you know, to have in faith, you can do anything.”
That includes owning a street-corner business and then setting up its executive board to include children who are from the neighborhood so they can learn from his experience.
“We don’t want to go too far without giving back,” he said. “You know, we have the YFL, which is a football league, where we have over 10,000 kids, and to build a community of faith and community of trust, loyalty, and just giving back. You know, with all due respect, we wanted to do something in our neighborhood versus you know, take it to LA or New York.”
Miami Gardens City Councilman Reggie Leon says this also helps future small business owners.
“So, when it comes to now providing leases for these up and coming businesses, this gives them an extra opportunity to be able to work with the community.”
The rapper isn’t doing this alone.
He now has the help of friends who also grew up on these same streets
Freezy Prince is one of those friends.
“Sixty seconds,” he said. “We grew up 60 seconds from here. And we are purchasing plazas, the thing that I never even thought, what 100 years it’d be possible.”
Eric ‘E-Class’ Prince is another partner.
“When we come down 7th Avenue or 441, and 183rd, we want to make our contribution to where we grew up at in Carol City.”
Freezy Prince said: “Hip hop 50th anniversary, and we celebrated hip hop 50th anniversary by purchasing this nice plaza in our community.”
Speaking of music, Flo Rida is still in the studio. He has a couple of hits out right now and more music on the way.