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EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program Hits Mainstream: Used by Hilton, Hyatt

September 18, 2012 / usifredo

The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program reaches far and wide in the real estate development world. As the three-year extension of the program was just approved by the House of Representatives, it is expected to reach even further, contributing to the economic rebound and success of the United States.

Investments from the program can be seen across the country, from Vermont multi-use developments to South Florida luxury hotels and Seattle hotels. For example, when Marriot International wanted to open a new hotel in Downtown Seattle, the company raised $88 million from immigrants who invested in EB-5 Regional Centers.

Immigrant investments have become one of the most popular sources of financing for new Marriot hotels, as the company has endorsed 14 projects since 2008. Other projects completed by Marriot, using EB-5 investments, include the downtown Milwaukee Marriot, a Courtyard Marriot in Midtown Manhattan and a $168 million hotel in Los Angeles.

Initiated in 1990 and originally more often used by small hotel developers, the program has seen much success in recent years, and is even expected to max out its limit on investors in 2012.

Today, hotel developers across the nation realize its potential. Developers can raise money through the program by offering returns of less than 4 percent, which beats average interest rates of 6 percent.

Over the past year and a half, developers such as Hilton Worldwide, Hyatt Hotels and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide have shown interest and used EB-5 financing.

“It’s a method of financing that’s current, available and very credible,” explained Craig Mance, Hilton’s senior vice president for development for North America. “It’s helping deals move forward.”

These developers expect to continue to use EB-5 financing after traditional financing sources rebound to more acceptable interest rates and regulations. As it is relatively cheap for the developer, stable and complements other financing sources, finance leaders see no reason to stop using it. Mance adds, “If it works, why not use it again?”

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