Eager to help build student housing for the University of Rochester, the mayor is asking city council to approve a $900,000 loan for The Flats. It would be a $20 million high rise apartment building on the riverfront.
That’s up from the $750,000 city loan the mayor originally proposed to finance the project. The city would get money for the loan in part from the sale of property on Lattimore to the U of R.
Here’s the kicker. City council legislation revealed the developer plans to get $12 million in funding from EB-5 visas. The Democrat and Chronicle explains how it works:
The program, possibly being used for the first time in Rochester, is one of several employer-based immigration options. It gives preference to these foreign investors, though other programs give higher favor to immigrants with special or unique job skills.
Immigrants invest at least $500,000 in a new or troubled U.S. venture that generates 10 new jobs, or in a regional center (Buffalo has one). They are granted conditional permanent residence for two years and then can petition for full citizenship.
This could be a very good project for the 19th Ward and the city. But the complicated nature of this deal and others shows how terribly hard it is to get anything financed and built in this town.
Something else in the legislation stood out. City council is being asked to approve the $900,000 loan on short notice to meet the “2013 deadline required” by the U of R. If the college wanted this so badly, why not put its own money into the deal? On both sides of the river now, city taxpayers are on the hook for big college development deals. And the deals are getting more complicated.