NY Wheel reels in Chi­nese EB-5 in­vestors

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICAS - By ADELINA ZHANG in New York For China Daily

The New York Wheel, an ob­ser­va­tion Fer­ris wheel planned for Staten Is­land that will be the tallest of its kind in the world, has so far re­ceived $150 mil­lion from for­eign in­vestors, the vast ma­jor­ity from China in ex­change for green cards.

The 630-foot-wheel project has at­tracted 300 Chi­nese in­vestors, at least 90 per­cent of the for­eign in­vestors in­volved, through the EB-5 visa pro­gram, which gives for­eign in­vestors a tem­po­rary visa to the US, said Richard Marin, pres­i­dent and CEO of New York Wheel LLC.

“We go where the money is,” said Marin. “There are a larger num­ber of en­trepreneurs with that kind of wealth in China than any­where else. By far the largest sin­gle source of sup­ply — those who seem to find value in in­vest­ment like this in ex­change for a green card and where money is avail­able — is from China.”

Marin went on a two-week trip to Bei­jing, Shen­zhen, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Shang­hai with CanAm En­ter­prises LLC rep­re­sen­ta­tives in March to at­tract po­ten­tial in­vestors.

The EB-5 pro­gram pro­vides for­eign in­vestors and their fam­i­lies tem­po­rary visas if they in­vest at least $500,000 and green cards if they cre­ate at least 10 jobs for US work­ers within two years through their in­vest­ment.

The wheel project, which was ap­proved on Mon­day by the US Cit­i­zen and Im­mi­gra­tion Ser­vices (USCIS) as an EB-5 in­vest­ment, has re­ceived $500,000 from each of the 300 Chi­nese in­vestors, said Marin.

“What we’re do­ing is tak­ing ad­van­tage of a US pro­gram that was ap­proved by Congress al­most unan­i­mously,” Marin said. “It is a widely sup­ported pro­gram to cre­ate jobs in the US by us­ing for­eign cap­i­tal and mak­ing green cards avail­able to peo­ple who want to put for­eign cap­i­tal to work in this coun­try to help build jobs. We had the op­por­tu­nity pre­sented to us to get at­trac­tive fi­nanc­ing, so we used it.”

The USCIS over­sees the EB-5 pro­gram and de­ter­mines which projects qual­ify for this pro­gram. Ap­proval usu­ally takes 10 to 12 months.

Marin said that it only took six months to get the wheel project ap­proved. It helped that they were part­nered with CanAm En­ter­prises, which has 25 years ex­pe­ri­ence in pro­mot­ing pri­vate and govern­ment im­mi­gra­tion in­vest­ments.

“The rea­son why this project sold out so quickly — and why this is such an at­trac­tive project — is be­cause it is part­nered with CanAm, which is the best in the busi­ness,” he said. “When they en­dorse a project, based on their flaw­less track record, in­vestors know that it is a solid in­vest­ment.”

What at­tracted in­vestors so quickly and se­cured speedy govern­ment ap­proval, ac­cord­ing to Marin, were the spon­sor­ship from CanAm, as­sur­ances that in­vestors would get visas ap­proved, an eco­nom­i­cally vi­able project that has the abil­ity to pay back debt and lo­ca­tion in a high-pri­or­ity area where there is a need for jobs.

“All of those el­e­ments show that this is why the im­mi­gra­tion ser­vice would want to push for in­vestors,” Marin said. “And this is also what in­vestors look for be­cause they want to get their green cards and make a profit.”

Clare Chen, man­ager of for­eign sales and mar­ket­ing for CanAm, wrote in an email in­ter­view: “We be­lieve the New York Wheel meets the high­est stan­dards of the EB-5 Pro­gram and will cre­ate thou­sands of qual­i­fy­ing jobs in the re­gion.”

“We were con­fi­dent that,” Chen con­tin­ued, “with the com­ple­tion guar­an­tees, fixed­price con­tracts, all of the fi­nanc­ing in place and the de­sign-build team be­hind it, which is the same team be­hind the Lon­don Eye, that the project would be com­pleted on time and on bud­get.”

Ac­cord­ing to job stud­ies com­mis­sioned by New York Wheel, the project will cre­ate about 4,200 jobs, in­clud­ing 300-350 con­struc­tion jobs and 400-600 per­ma­nent jobs.

The Wheel is ex­pected to be­gin con­struc­tion in De­cem­ber 2014 and plans to open in early 2017. Its 36 cap­sules on the wheel, each car­ry­ing 40 pas­sen­gers, are ex­pected to re­ceive 30,000 rid­ers a day, 4.5 mil­lion a year.

At 630 feet high, the New York Wheel will be 20 sto­ries taller than the 443-foot Lon­don Eye, and also top sim­i­lar Fer­ris wheels in Nan­chang (520 feet), Sin­ga­pore (541) and Las Ve­gas (550). De­vel­op­ers in Dubai are plan­ning a wheel 689 feet tall.

“These types of attractions have been proven to be very pop­u­lar around the world be­cause NY har­bor is a great tourist des­ti­na­tion,” said Marin. “A lot of peo­ple are on the wa­ter any­way to visit the Statue of Lib­erty, so this was the per­fect place to put an iconic at­trac­tion.” Con­tact the writer at read­ers@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com.


The New York Wheel has re­ceived $150 mil­lion from for­eign in­vestors through the EB-5 visa pro­gram, which gives in­vestors a tem­po­rary green card. The Staten Is­land wheel will be­come the largest ob­ser­va­tion wheel in the US and plans to open by early 2017.

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