Thanks to EB-5 provision, Witkoff’s 1 Park Lane is in a low-income neighborhood

The "Billionaires' Row" project is in a census tract with East Harlem public-housing projects
October 14, 2015 04:30PM

Under the EB-5 program, Steve Witkoff’s skyscraper on “Billionaires’ Row” is considered to be in a low-income area.

Witkoff is among several developers raking in financing, in part, due to census tracts shaped in order to comply with a stipulation of EB-5. The provision requires that qualifying urban projects be constructed in rural places or areas with unemployment rates at least 150 percent of the national average, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The loose provision has led to some stretching of these areas’ boundaries. State officials drew a map that puts Witkoff’s 1 Park Lane in the same census tract as numerous public-housing projects in East Harlem.

In July, the U.S. Immigration Fund was raising $800 million for four major construction projects under EB-5: 125 Greenwich Street, 111 Murray Street, Marriott Edition Hotel Times Square and 1 Park Lane. Of that sum, the fund’s president, Nicholas Mastroianni, raised $220 million for 1 Park Lane, a planned 1,210-foot-tall tower at 36 Central Park South.

Several provisions of the program, which offers a green card and potential citizenship to foreign investors, was set to expire in September but Congress extended EB-5 to December 11, holding off on addressing efforts to tighten certain provisions of the program.

As for the location requirement, Sen. Charles Schumer is pushing to keep the current provision in tact, saying that critics aren’t taking into consideration that development projects are huge job creators. [WSJ] Kathryn Brenzel