04 August 2017
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This article is an updated version of the one that was originally published about 3 years ago on HotelLawBlog.com on 30 July 2014.
Why you do NOT want to form your own regional center
Jim Butler, Hotel & EB-5 Finance Lawyer
How should developers pursue EB-5 financing?
Although the EB-5 immigrant visa program has been around since 1990, the current trend of using it as a source of financing for hotel and other real estate started 20 years later – around 2010. We worked on one of the first hotel EB-5 financings for the W Hotel & Residences in Hollywood, and we have since worked on more than 100 EB-5 projects all over the country. Now, the use of EB-5 financing for construction has gone mainstream. High profile EB-5 financing closings include $450 million for the Century Plaza Los Angeles, $100 million for the Ritz Carlton & JW Marriott in downtown Los Angeles, $150 million for the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, and $1 billion for the Silverstein project at the World Trade Center in New York City (with a Four Seasons Hotel).
As a growing number of savvy hotel developers hurry to assess the EB-5 financing opportunity, they frequently receive conflicting advice as to the best way to pursue EB-5 financing. Many immigration lawyers and advisors tout the advantages of the developer forming its own regional center – basically to shave a few points off the all-in cost of EB-5 financing.
This advice may work well for the EB-5 advisors (in that they may get $100,000 or more in fees) and for certain hotel developers. But for most of the hotel developers we know, forming a captive regional center is a bad idea. This article should provide a note of caution for developers considering this course.
Based on our extensive experience with financing hotel development from EB-5 funding sources, we believe that the answer for most hotel developers will be to obtain “preferred” status for themselves and their projects – if they can do so – and to tap into the very best established EB-5 funding sources. For more on this approach, see “Development financing: How to win the race for EB-5 capital.”
Restricted capacity in channels for accessing EB-5 capital
As hotel developers compete in a very crowded field seeking the finite amount of EB-5 funding available each fiscal year (because there are only 10,000 visas available per year), there is something of a “race” to gain access to the limited resources for tapping EB-5 capital. CONTINUE READING →