EB-5 program extended with no reforms to December!

Repeated extensions of visa program has spooked investors, experts say

SkyRise is one of the Miami projects partially funded by EB-5 investors

Congress extended the EB-5 visa program on Thursday night, allowing the program to run until December. 

The program, which grants foreign investors green cards after they invest at least $500,000 in job-producing ventures, was set to expire on Friday at midnight. But industry experts told The Real Deal that the vote is no surprise, especially during an election year.

A number of major South Florida developments have secured and are in the midst of securing capital via EB-5, including SkyRise Miami, Panorama Tower, Paramount Miami Worldcenter, Metropica, the Highlands, One Thousand Museum and restaurant groups like Tap 42 and Meat Market.

Congress passed a continuing resolution, which included EB-5, to avoid a government shutdown before the end of the fiscal year. It was passed with no reforms, which many say it strongly needs. Congress kept the bill afloat in a similar situation last September at the end of the government’s fiscal year, and gave it two extensions before Wednesday’s vote.

President Barack Obama signed the bill containing the continuing resolution into law Thursday – just about 36 hours before the end of fiscal 2016.

Ronnie Fieldstone, an Arnstein & Lehr attorney who represents developers and EB-5 regional centers, expects the new bill to raise the minimum investment requirement from $500,000 to $800,000 in high unemployment areas and from $1 million to $1.2 million for low unemployment areas. The minimum investment hasn’t changed since 1992.

If passed, a new EB-5 bill would likely redefine TEA’s, or targeted employment areas, Fieldstone told The Real Deal.

While interest in the still popular program has waned this year – fewer applications were filed from Oct. 1 2015 to June 30 of this year, compared the same period last year – updated figures for the entire fiscal year aren’t yet available.

Consistently leaving the program’s future in question has spooked some investors. “It’s absolutely had a somewhat negative effect on the market,” Fieldstone said. “We believe the current extension has been a positive, but the market will still be waiting to see what happens.”

Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont proposed a bill last June that would give it a five-year lifeline. Fieldstone said Leahy’s proposed law, Senate bill 1501, will serve as the foundation for EB-5’s future after December.

Last month, Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte sponsored a bill that would severely restrict developers by retroactively raising the minimum individual investment to all applications filed by investors from June 2015.

But long wait lists, little oversight and rampant fraud call for a big overhaul of the visa program, experts say. “Chinese investors who file an application today,” Fieldstone said, “may not get a visa for five, six or seven years.”

 

-TRD- KK

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400 Biscayne hits the market, could sell for north of $60M!

Zoning allows for 1,150 units, 1.8M sf and unlimited height, pending FAA approval

First United Methodist Church, HFF's Jaret Turkell and Maurice Habif

The First United Methodist Church site in downtown Miami is now for sale, and could sell for north of $60 million. 

The church currently owns and occupies 1.15-acre development site at 400 Biscayne Boulevard. HFF’s Jaret Turkell and Maurice Habif are listing the property unpriced, Turkell told The Real Deal, but expect that it will sell in the $60 million range.

The site has 305 feet of frontage along Biscayne, and is zoned under Miami 21 as T6-80, which allows for about 1,150 units, 1.8 million square feet and unlimited height, pending FAA approval, according to marketing materials. Allowed uses include hotel, residential, retail and general commercial.

“The really cool thing about it is it’s parallel to Biscayne, so the views will be spectacular,” Turkell told TRD.

The church, which has never been on the market, is looking for a buyer that will allow it to stay on-site until construction of a new project begins and is also requesting a 20,000-square-foot to 30,000-square-foot space in whatever is eventually built, Turkell said.

The 28,000-square-foot building, built in 1981, takes up about half the block including a paved parking lot. If and when it sells, the site joins a number of other churches, temples and other religious institutions to profit off of their land and move elsewhere in South Florida.

HFF will market the site for about a month and then have a call for offers, he said.

It’s next to a Miami Dade College Wolfson parking lot at 520 Biscayne Boulevard, which the college is currently in the process of developing in a public-private partnership. The Related Group is currently ranked as the top bidder, and has proposed turning the 2.6-acre site into a 75-story condominium tower, a 39-story office tower, a 100-room hotel and private club.

Earlier this year, Kawa Capital Management bought into the Holiday Inn site at 340 Biscayne Boulevard, which has been through approvals for a mixed-use tower.

And just south at 300 Biscayne, Property Markets Group is developing the site into two phases, a rental tower geared toward millennials and a luxury condo tower that has not yet launched.

 

-TRD-

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Featured Property of the Day: 1540 Euclid Ave 203, Miami Beach, FL 33139! ONLY $1400

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Shoma seeks approvals for Coral Gables mixed-use redevelopment near UM!

Project would have a handful of “work-live” apartments on ground floor

Rendering of the project and Masoud Shojaee

Masoud Shojaee’s Shoma Group is reportedly looking to nab city approvals for a $36 million mixed-use redevelopment near the University of Miami in Coral Gables.

The application covers redevelopment plans for the properties at 1500 Venera Avenue and 1515 San Remo Avenue, which house a low-rise rental and condo complex, respectively.

According to the South Florida Business Journal, Shoma wants to raze both parcels and build a mid-rise commercial building with 172 apartments, 33,000 square feet of retail space and 378 parking spaces. Its amenity package includes a community kitchen, fitness center and a rooftop pool.

The apartments would range in size from 752 square feet to 1,724 square feet and would be located on the upper floors, while a handful of two-story residences would occupy a portion of the ground floor.

Shoma already owns the mid-century apartments at 1500 Venera Avenue after purchasing them for $5.65 million in 2013, according to the South Florida Business Journal, and is in contract to buy out the owners of the 47-unit condominium.

The application is set to go before Coral Gables’ Development Review Commitee on September 30. [South Florida Business Journal]Sean Stewart-Muniz

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Featured Property of the Day: 2375 SE 12th Ct 216, Homestead, FL 33035… ONLY $109,000! WOW!

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Featured Property of the Day: 19370 Collins Ave Ph-18, Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160… ONLY $2,600

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Fannie OKs loans for Miami condos without parking!

The approval applies to loans to buy units at Centro, a new downtown condo near mass transit

The rooftop pool deck at Centro

Fannie Mae approved mortgage loans to finance the purchase of unsold units at Centro, a new 40-story condominium in downtown Miami built without parking spaces.

The developer, Newgard Development Group, has obtained a temporary certificate of occupancy for Centro, and fewer than 30 units at the 352-unit, loft-style condominium remain unsold.

Fannie Mae approval means qualified loan applicants can make down payments as low as 5 percent on mortgages to buy condos at Centro. Interest rates for mortgages conforming to Fannie’s standards start at about 3.45 percent. Loan amounts are limited to  $417,000.

Prices for Centro units range from the mid $300,000s to the $500,000s. The units have 10-foot ceilings and floor space ranging from 654 square feet to 1,131 square feet.

Newgard was able to build the condominium without parking, thus less expensively, because Miami zoning rules permit such developments if they are near mass transit service.

Centro’s central location at 151 Southeast 1 Street is near multiple mass transit options, including the Metrorail and Metromover lines. Residents of Centro can choose to rent vehicle parking spaces a block away, and Newgard will support the first year of parking fees.

-TRD-

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