Durst taps into green card fever

Developer looks to raise $260 million through visa program for foreign investors

A rendering of 625 West 57th Street
A rendering of 625 West 57th Street

The Durst Organization is looking to entice wealthy foreigners to invest in two high-profile Manhattan projects through a visa program that would reward their investment with a green card, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Durst is looking to raise roughly $260 million through the EB-5 visa program for the two projects — a 41-story mixed-use glass tower at Sixth Avenue and 31st Street and a Bjarke Ingels Group-designed apartment tower at 625 West 57th Street. The visa program provides foreign citizens with green cards when they invest at least $500,000 per family in projects that create at least 10 jobs per investor.

The developer looked to this alternative source of financing as traditional construction loans dried up, Gary Rosenberg, an attorney for Durst, told the Journal. Certain types of loans that developers have previously relied on have become “very expensive and very hard to do in rental property,” he said.

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Other big projects that have used the EB-5 visa program include Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards and Extell Development’s International Gem Tower On West 47th Street.

George Olsen, a principal of the New York City Regional Center, a company that found investors for the Atlantic Yards project, told the Journal that the program used to be so obscure that people had to be convinced of its merit.

“Now it’s a lot more popular and people have heard of it,” Olsen said. [WSJ]  – Hiten Samtani