George Washington Immigration Group Debuts Loan Platform for EB-5 Debt [Updated]
George Washington Immigration Group has secured the capital to provide $1.25 billion in first-lien construction loans and bridge loans to developers seeking EB-5 financing, Commercial Observer can exclusively report.
The firm declined to specify the source behind the commitment, citing a confidential arrangement.
“We will now be able to provide approved projects with … bridge capital while they seek financing under the EB-5 program,” said Evan Stoopler, a George Washington managing director.
The EB-5 program, administered by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, offers visas for foreigners who make investments in American enterprises. To qualify, foreign entrepreneurs must invest at least $1 million (or $500,000, if the investment is in a rural area) in projects that stand to create full-time jobs for 10 or more workers.
The arrangements have increasingly appealed to U.S. real estate developers looking for financing of late. Rates tend to be more attractive than those offered by domestic lenders, and foreigners seeking EB-5 visas are often less intent on seeking an equity reward for investment. But it has often difficult to line up foreign investors with shovel-ready projects in time.
That’s where the George Washington company’s bridge loans will come in, said one of the group’s managing partners, Steve Anapoell. His firm plans to use the $1.25 billion pool as interim financing for developers while longer-term EB-5 partners can be matched.
“I am constantly called to ask if I have money to provide as bridge,” Anapoell said. “Developers are hungry for this. [They ask me] ‘can you give bridge? Do you know anyone who can give us bridge?’ They need certainty in the capital stack.”
When George Washington’s short-term financings expire, the company hopes to stand ready to roll those bridge loans over into debt funded by EB-5 applicants. But borrowers will not be bound to refinance through George Washington, Anapoell said.
The company’s members have structured over $2 billion in EB-5 financings, including for Related Companies’ Hudson Yards development, for Silverstein Properties’ 30 Park Place, and for Extell Development and Lightstone Group.
Update: This story has been edited to include that the financing will be available for construction loans and bridge loans.