Silverstein seeks $500M in EB-5 funding for 2 WTC

Developer soliciting $500K donations using "targeted unemployment areas" provision

Larry Silverstein
A rendering of 2 World Trade Center and Larry Silverstein (inset)

Larry Silverstein’s Silverstein Properties aims to raise about $500 million in financing through the EB-5 visa program to fund construction of 2 World Trade Center.

Silverstein, which is developing the 2.8 million-square-foot Bjarke Ingels-designed tower along with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is pursuing foreign investors who will kick in $500,000 a piece.

The EB-5 program grants green cards to foreigners – in practice, mainly Chinese nationals – who create jobs through investments in the United States, the Wall Street Journal reported. Normally investors are required to contribute $1 million, but that limit is cut in half in “targeted unemployment zones,” areas where the unemployment rate is 1.5 times the national rate.

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The special provision, however, doesn’t specify the boundaries of such districts, allowing developers to draw borders creatively in such as a way as to include their buildings, often in areas of strong employment, in areas that, taken as a whole meet the EB-5 program’s unemployment standard.

The specific boundaries Silverstein plans to designate are unknown, but the company has used the procedure before, including areas of the Lower East Side along with the firm’s Downtown sites.

The practice has drawn scrutiny, with the U.S. Congress considering changes in the program to force investment to more economically distressed areas.

Last month, New York-based Chinese developer Kuafu Properties put out a call for $50 million in EB-5 funding for its 177,000-square foot mixed-use project at 147 East 86th Street on the Upper East Side. [WSJ]Ariel Stulberg