Over the years, numerous EB-5 investors from China have sued developers and intermediaries in the U.S. over stalled real estate projects in which the plaintiffs alleged they received zero return on investment. Court victories accompanied by financial compensation have been rare.
But dozens of EB-5 investors who have been battling a developer over a Chicago mixed-use tower project will now be getting their money back.
Symmetry Property Development has agreed to return nearly $50 million to Chinese investors for its unbuilt 60-story River North tower, according to Crain’s. In doing so, the New York-based developer settles the two-year long legal fight.
Symmetry has been at odds with its investors, along with lenders, residents and the city since it unveiled the condominium-and-hotel Carillon tower plan in 2017. Two years later and with the project still undeveloped, the EB-5 investors demanded their money back. The tower plans included 246 condo units, 120 timeshare units, 216 hotel rooms and 30,000 square feet of retail space, Crain’s reported.
Under the proposed settlement, 89 Chinese citizens are entitled to receive $550,000 each, the amount invested through the U.S. visa program, according to Crain’s. The total adds up to about $49 million. A federal judge has agreed to the settlement.
The matter, however, does not put an end to Symmetry’s legal problems. Skidmore Owings & Merrill, the architecture firm that designed the River North tower, also has sued the developer, demanding payment of about $275,000 in design fees.
Symmetry did not return a call for comment, but the developer has not abandoned the project. It remains unclear whether it can pursue the development, however, given the existing buildings on the property are now protected from demolition, according to the report. [Crain’s] — Sasha Jones