Related raises record-setting $600M through EB-5 program

Cash-for-visa program a "critical part" of financing the $20B Hudson Yards project on the Far West Side

Hudson Yards and Related Companies' Jeff Blau
Hudson Yards and Related Companies' Jeff Blau

Related Companies, the developer behind the Far West Side’s massive Hudson Yards project, has raised about $600 million to finance the building of the foundation of three towers at the site through the federal government’s EB-5 visa program.

The amount of money that Related has raised through EB-5 is a record, according to the Wall Street Journal, and underscores the growing popularity of the program.

The EB-5 incentive, created in 1990 as a way to create jobs using foreign capital, offers a visa in return for a $500,000 investment and the creation of 10 jobs.

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Related isn’t the city’s only big developer that is using the government program. Forest City Ratner Companies has raised more than $475 million through the program to construct its project near the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Durst Organization raised $260 million through the EB-5 program in 2013 and 2014 for two apartment towers.

More than 10,000 foreign investors applied for the EB-5 visa in the fiscal year that ended on September 30, according to the newspaper. The number is up from 6,346 applicants from a year before. In 2006, 486 overseas investors applied for the visa.

Related’s chief executive officer Jeff Blau plans to raise hundreds of millions more from Chinese investors — who make up the largest percentage of applicants — and other EB-5 visa-holders for the more than $20 billion project.

“It was a very critical part of the puzzle,” he told the newspaper. “It’s so big, there’s not enough capital from any one traditional source.” [WSJ]Claire Moses