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September 20, 2010

Ratner Mulls Visa Financing

The Wall Street Journal
by Eliot Brown

Not content with raising money through "traditional" means, like below-market, backroom purchases of publicly owned railyards and investments from Russian billionaire oligarchs, Bruce Ratner is going to start selling green cards through an obscure, dubious, government-backed program, proving that no subsidized financing scheme is too wacky when it comes to Atlantic Yards.

Developer Bruce Ratner is eyeing a federal program that gives green cards to investors as a way of raising new financing for his massive Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn.

Mr. Ratner is planning to fly to China next month hoping to use the program to raise about $250 million for the $4.9 billion development, which is slated to include a basketball arena, thousands of apartments and office space. While he had enough to begin construction this spring of Atlantic Yards' centerpiece $900 million arena for the Nets, he still is seeking financing for other pieces.

Enacted in 1990, the federal program has raised more than $1 billion by granting green cards to investors who lend at least $500,000 to job-creating projects in needy areas. Last year, 4,218 green cards were issued through the program.

The funds being sought by Mr. Ratner's company, Forest City Ratner would be among the largest amount borrowed for one project through the program, called EB-5 because it represents a fifth category of employment-based visas. The program had been rarely used in New York, but this spring the Brooklyn Navy Yard sought $125 million in financing through EB-5.

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NoLandGrab: Worried that the "coyotes" might shake you down or abandon you to drug lords when they're supposed to be sneaking you across the border from Tijuana? Just plunk down 500 large with Bruce Ratner, and you can stroll into the U-S-of-A like you were born here.

Posted by eric at September 20, 2010 11:08 PM