Land clearing has started for City Center West Orange, the large mixed-use development planned for Ocoee at the confluence of Colonial Drive, S.R. 429, S.R. 408 and the Florida Turnpike, said David Townsend, CEO of Park Development.
Next comes the underground infrastructure for water and sewers as well as the roads through the development, Townsend said.
In the meantime, Townsend said he is also making progress gathering the capital it will take to build the $150 million development, and most of it is coming from outside of the U.S.
Park Development is raising capital in two ways. One is through individual investors, most from a variety of other countries, including, England, France, Hungary, and a lot from South America – Brazil and Venezuela.
Its other funding stream is coming from foreign investors who are seeking visas to move to the U.S. and become citizens under EB-5 rules.
The EB-5 funding program grants visas to foreign nationals and their immediate families, if they invest in the U.S. economy through a Direct Investment Program, such as City Center West Orange LLC. Typically the investment is $1 million, but in the case of City Center West Orange, the investment can be as low as $500,000 because it is designated a Targeted Employment Area. The $500,000 must create at least 10 jobs for 24 months.
So far, Townsend said there are about 30 visas are in process and he anticipates getting between 70 and 100 this year. When added into the capital garnered from more traditional investors, the proceeds should be enough to finish the project, he said.
In addition to the direct investments, Townsend said the immigrants, mostly well-off professionals with children, add additional money into the U.S. economy beyond the EB-5 investment by purchasing homes and cars and services.
"One guy bought a boat and a helicopter," Townsend said. "The people who are coming are highly educated engineers, doctors, lawyers, business executives.
For their money, the investors receive 2.75 percent interest plus equity in the project, which may grow in value over time partly because they are investing before construction.
There are a few caveats on investment, however. The investors have to prove their money comes from legal sources. They must also invest in a company where the funds are at risk for loss and will create 10 new jobs for 24 months.
Investors receive a two-year green card. Before the two years are up a petition is submitted to the US Citizen and Immigration Services confirming the investment was made and that 10 jobs were created as a result of the investment. Then the Green Card is permanently valid.
"It's the quickest way" to get a green card, said Townsend.