Chinese firm considers EB-5 to help fund Florida project
A principal in a Chinese firm that is considering buying City Center in Port St. Lucie, Florida, spoke with the city council about her company’s plans to potentially use the EB-5 visa program to revitalize the financially struggling project.
Lily Zhong of U.S. Investments told city council members that the firm would follow the current design proposal for the center, which is envisioned to be a $100 million retail and entertainment complex, according to TCPalm.com.
The city council did not vote to approve or deny the sale, but some members seem optimistic about the move’s potential.
“This is our first exposure to something like this locally, and the information that’s been provided to us has been limited,” councilwoman Michelle Berger said. “I’m excited about the potential of this project, certainly, and I think that this is an opportunity for the City Center to be revived. I see it as its automatic defibrillator in a way to really be able to move this project forward to the way we’d like to see it happen.”
The 21-acre property is in foreclosure and will be auctioned off on December 1 if no buyer is found to take over the project. PNC Bank wants to foreclose on the property for $32.2 million.
The City Center project would be the first such venture into the U.S. by U.S. Investments. To help them in the endeavor, the firm is looking into obtaining investments in the EB-5 visa program and possibly forming an EB-5 regional center in the area.
The EB-5 visa program allows foreign nationals to become eligible for U.S. green cards if they invest $1 million in an American business and that investment leads to the creation or preservation of 10 jobs. EB-5 regional centers can be public or private entities that helps to direct and manage investments in the EB-5 visa program.
Management at PSL City Center, a company involved with the development of the project, seems to believe that U.S. Investments may be able to help complete construction.
“It’s a group that puts forth the best chance of getting City Center built,” George de Guardiola, a managing member of PSL City Center, told the news source. “Unfortunately, in the financing world today the only funds that are available are very aggressive and opportunistic. They are people of their word, and once they make a commitment they are ready to perform.”
For their part, U.S. Investments seems ready to commit to the City Center project.
“The project fits our criteria. It needs a lot of investors,” Zhong said.