Beyond the Build

Construction Trends

Foreign Investment Close to Home

We are currently constructing an urban redevelopment project that will have a value of about $120 million when completed. Approximately 40% of the dollars required are coming from a little-known federal visa program known as EB-5.

EB-5, which was designed to promote investment and employment in the US, has gained popularity in the real estate development community since the financial crisis. In summary, the program gives foreign nationals the opportunity to obtain a permanent visa in exchange for an investment in the US that creates at least 10 full time jobs. In many cases, the investment required is $1 million, but our particular site is in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA), which reduces the requirement to $500,000. After 5 years, the investor can apply for permanent US citizenship. I believe the overall program is limited to 10,000 units per year.

Interestingly, since 2014, about 80% of the EB-5 investors have been from China. Our investors are also from China.

The program has some powerful backers, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Sheldon Adelson, who endorsed EB-5 in an op-ed column for the New York Times. As things move along, we will keep you updated on our experience.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.