Steven Witkoff's incoming Central Park South luxury tower has come under fire again, this time for its use of the EB-5 green card program. The 900-foot tower at 36 Central Park South, which is expected to command asks of up to $13,000 per square foot, is the highest-profile building to take advantage of the immigrant investor program to-date. The Wall Street Journal notes that critics of the project are calling its use of EB-5, which secures green cards for investors in projects that create jobs, a "widespread abuse" of the program. Witkoff, of course, is unfazed, "Those are working-class people who are getting those jobs...EB-5 has been a huge positive for the financing market."
Critics say that the way developers like Witkoff are using the program is a form of gerrymandering. According to the Journal, urban projects like Witkoff's 1 Park Lane fall under a provision that requires the business produced through EB-5 to be located in rural regions or areas with unemployment rates that meet or exceed 150 percent of the national average. This provision allows developers to accept investments in more attainable $500,000 increments rather than the typical $1 million investment.
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