Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

November 16, 2012

Financing focus of Baker project

Hunter Chase looks outside U.S. for hotel investors


Mineral Wells Index

— By CHRIS AGEE

Local leaders say the investment group behind an ongoing Baker Hotel renovation project are utilizing a unique opportunity to attract investors.

City Manager Lance Howerton said partners at Hunter Chase are exploring a U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services program called the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as EB-5.

Howerton said the financing program “allows foreign investors to invest in projects in the United States,” explaining that “if they make these investments in a qualified project ... that puts them on a fast track to obtaining a Visa or citizenship – some manner of ability to reside in the United States.”

According to information on the USCIS website, the EB-5 program was initially implemented in 1990 and provides specific guidelines dictating which projects qualify.

Foreign investors must help fund a new commercial enterprise that will provably create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

Additionally, qualified foreign investors must make a minimum investment of $1 million. In high unemployment or rural areas, the minimum investment is $500,000.

“There are two groups that I know Hunter Chase is working with to see if they can obtain some financing for the Baker project through this type of program,” Howerton said, noting one group is based in Austin and the other in Topeka, Kan.

“What these groups do is they look for projects that are eligible ... and once they have a project, they try to match up investors.”

Hunter Chase representatives did not return multiple calls seeking comment. The group is based in Southlake and holds exclusive development rights on the Baker Hotel through the city and its current owners.