Chicago EB-5 investors irate over Symmetry tower project

Symmetry Property Development’s River North project looks unlikely to ever get built

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

It’s looking quite bad for Symmetry Property Development in Chicago.

A slew of legal problems, including a federal EB-5 fraud suit and hostility from local Alderman Brendan Reilly, mean the developer’s 60-story hotel-condo tower project in River North looks exceedingly unlikely to ever get built.

About 30 EB-5 investors in China recently walked into the Beijing office of the agent who helped raise EB-5 funds and demanded he return their investments, according to Crain’s.

“It’s a mess right now,” their attorney Doug Litowitz told the outlet. “I want to see the money trail. That’s all I want to see.”

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The case, which features 89 plaintiffs, was certified as class-action earlier this month.

New York-based Symmetry, alongside local partner Fordham Real Estate, proposed the 60-story Carillon tower in the first block of East Superior Street, which would have featured 246 condo units, 216 hotel rooms and 120 timeshare units. After Reilly rejected it, Symmetry has continued to pursue demolition of the buildings on the site, which has angered preservationists and Reilly himself.

Symmetry, run by Jeffrey Leyton, is chiefly relying on the legal argument that because they’re still pursuing the project, the investors aren’t owed any funds. In all, EB-5 investors each contributed $550,000 to the Chicago project, totaling about $50 million.

In 2017, Chicago developer Anshoo Sethi received a three-year prison sentence for scamming Chinese investors in a proposed $900 million hotel project. [Crain’s] — James Kleimann