Home Back Issues April 2011 Asian investors eye Oregon properties, green cards

Asian investors eye Oregon properties, green cards

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Articles - April 2011
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
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Asian investors eye Oregon properties, green cards
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Wilson Chen arrived from China with $3,000 to his name. Now he is the president of the company that owns Portland's KOIN Center in downtown Portland. // PHOTO BY LEAH NASH
Chen calls the EB-5 program a win-win situation: “It’s a win for the investor and for the state,” he says. “Because these people bring money to get the economy going and create jobs. Also when they become a green-card holder they will come to Oregon and pay income tax to the state and the federal government. On top of that they have to put their house here, they need to travel and they need to buy stuff. Each investor is contributing $500,000 minimum but the impact is way bigger than that. And it is long term.”

However, if the developer fails to prove that the foreign investor has created 10 jobs, the government will not grant the investor a green card. The jobs must be deemed sustainable after a two-year conditional period.

“You need to deliver,” says Chen. “You need to give the proof of the jobs.”

Chen earned his PhD from Oregon State University in 1996. He started an environmental consulting firm but found it difficult to bring in work because of language and cultural barriers. So he used his computer skills and work ethic to find information technology positions during the dot-com boom years. Even as that bubble burst, China continued its rise. Chen began to hear from family friends who were interested in moving money into the West once the timing seemed right. The investment group grew, and when the time came Chen and his backers pounced aggressively on dramatically undervalued assets. They bought the KOIN Center for about $50 million less than the $106 million the California Public Employees’ Retirement System paid for the building in 2007 after CalPERS defaulted on a $70 million loan.

Their EB-5 strategy will have to be more methodical, tied as it is to government approvals. They plan to start small with a pilot project out of the Oregon Pacific building in downtown Portland. Formerly the home of the Greek Cusina restaurant shut down by the city for fire code violations, the building would be renovated into a mixed-use development financed by 15 foreign investors hoping to gain green cards.

“The Oregon Pacific project is very small,” says Chen. “We want to make sure we are taking a conservative, safe path in all our projects. We took about six months to prepare our application, just to do a lot of research. Because once it starts it won’t stop. This will be the first but it will be followed by others.”

 



 

Comments   

 
China Man
0 #1 ChinaChina Man 2011-03-28 14:50:27
Yup. Won't be long CHINA will own the whole USA.
Opps, they do now..

Why doesn't our government step in and help the people of the USA..Instead of offering deals to other countries. Ya Right
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Karen Williams
0 #2 Karen Williams, Carroll Community Investments LLCKaren Williams 2011-04-01 17:15:59
Mr. Jacklet gives us too much credit! John Carroll, Bill McCrae and I been privileged to participate in projects we care about, all of which took the efforts of many talented people. Community development is complex and rewarding work, but above all else, it's teamwork. While we hope we were able to make meaningful contributions, the projects got done because of the creativity and leadership of many people from the public and private sectors.
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Rick Waible
0 #3 Hey China Man with the comment on 3-28Rick Waible 2011-04-20 07:12:03
I was born and raised right here on Oregon. I have served in the US Army and am as patriotic as it gets.....to a point. The US has changed to a culture of sissy laws where we cannot discipline our children or we lose them, our kids are living in a world of sloth habits, most playing video games and not building tree forts and having rock fights. The boy in a bubble race that sues for gain rather than getting up and working for a living. The handout free money every week to buy alcohol, junk food, and depression meds is sitting back and making a population of garbage humans. I say if China can come from poverty/3rd world conditons, and its population is working its way to wealth, and they want to spend it here on assets we were too stupid to hold....go for it China, it seems the US is going to need a sugar daddy.
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