Ernest Edwards’ American Reality

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[On Business]

At the tender age of 12, Ernest Edwards had no idea that one trip to the library would change his life forever.

It all began when he found a book at the local public library on Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most prominent, unique and influential architects of the 20th century. Young Ernest became fascinated while reading about Wright’s magnificent design, Taliesin West, which rests on 600 acres of preserved Sonoran Desert land on the South foothills of the McDowell Mountains, boasting spectacular views of Scottsdale, Phoenix and the Valley of the Sun and was built over many years by Wright’s apprentices. 

So inspired by the architectural masterpieces of Frank Lloyd Wright, Edwards decided that very day, within those library walls, that he, too would someday be an accomplished architect.

But Ernest did more than dream and fantasize about becoming a great architect. 

He took action to make it happen. Realizing that his dream required a college education, but coming from a family of modest means out of East Orange, NJ, Ernest began exploring his college options and scholarship possibilities. He did receive scholarship opportunities, but unfortunately the colleges he wanted to attend didn’t offer scholarships to out-of-state universities. So he ended up going to Rutgers University and settling on a civil engineering major, studying Landscape Architecture, which was bit different from the program he had hoped for. 

Rather than straight forward architecture, which he had more of an interest in, he ended up studying calculations and designing of highways, learning about trees, horticulture, plant materials, clay and soil and such.  Later, he obtained a Ford HUD Fellowship, which encouraged African Americans to get into city planning and urban design and honed his education in city planning at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School.

His good fortune Continued: Edwards met world renowned architect, Ed Bacon who was already well-versed and successful in city planning.  Ernest and Ed became friends, as well as colleagues, and as a result of working together, Ernest learned a lot about the planning for developing in New Jersey way ahead of time, which opened up a huge investment opportunity that he did not hesitate to take.

Ernest Edwards’ story reads like a new-age fairytale. In 1973, there was a vast amount of land lying abandoned in Lawnside, New Jersey.  Dozens of developers had come out to appraise the land, only to walk away, deeming the land worthless because it was always soaked with water. 

But Edwards’ education in landscape architecture, which because it was not his first choice of study he was reluctant to pursue, revealed to him something no other developers recognized. He saw a sweet gum tree on the land. And from what he learned about landscaping, he realized that if the tree was there, the water had to be coming from somewhere and all he had to do was find out where the water was coming from and remedy the problem.

After a little investigating he discovered that the water was coming from some recreational equipment supplied by the golf resort next door to the vacant land, to accommodate their members and guests.  Realizing the land in question was actually a goldmine in disguise, Edwards bought the land for next to nothing; he brought in his engineer who designed a storm sewer system which caught the water, and turned what was thought to be a wasteland by other developers into “Warwick Hills,” a multi-million dollar estate for himself, and never looked back.

Since then, Edwards, President of American Real Estate Development, Inc. (AREDI), a fully Black-owned company, has founded and served as a principal in several real estate development and construction companies, most notably being a general partner in Sarshik & Edwards, a firm selected by Princeton University to design and construct 600 units on the University’s Forrestal campus. 

Throughout his 30 years in the industry, he has also built The Gallery II Shopping Mall, J.C. Penney Department Store (Philadelphia, PA), The Golden Nugget Hotel/Casino Warehouse and The Harrah’s Marina Expansion Project (Atlantic City, NJ), and Stenton Arms Apartments (Rehab) and Cecil B. Moore Homes (Philadelphia, PA).

Edwards is currently working on a beautiful active adult community for people 55-plus.  The development will consist of 2 bedroom/2 bathroom units, a lounge and exercise room on the first floor, and other luxury accommodations and will be sold for $250,000. Edwards points out that the same size unit would cost $650,000 if located in New York City. “Our current residents would rather commute the hour and a half to New York for the value and quality of the homes and money saved,” he says. “And they appreciate the safety, quiet and good schools for the children.”

Edwards takes pride in his seven children, all of whom are well educated at some of the finest universities in the country, and ultimately have helped solidify his empire. 

The company has a stellar lineup: Gregory B. Montgomery, Esq. serves as Vice President and General Counsel; Cappy Sabir serves as Vice President for Architecture and Engineering; and Renée LaFargue serves as a consultant to AREDI in the area of marketing and research.

Edwards' children are also part of his winning team: His daughter, Tamida Edwards, is Vice President and Chief Operating Officer; Qamara Edwards is Vice President of Sales and Customer Relations; Tariq Edwards is Vice President of Construction; and Zaki Edwards is Vice President of Creative Services. 

“I’m proud of them. They’ve all done well,” Edwards adds.

When asked how he managed to raise all seven children to such a high level of success, Edwards paid homage to the mothers of the seven: “Their mothers are just good women and they wanted to make sure the kids got good educations.”

To learn more about AREDI (Amreican Real Estate Development, Inc.), logon to


Notes: Taliesin West is the main campus of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture.

The Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowship program “seeks to increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, to maximize the educational benefits of diversity, and to increase the number of professors who can and will use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.”

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