An EB-5 joint venture scored $19.2 million in construction financing for a hotel project in Doral.
Fort Lauderdale-based OptimumBank provided a $12.1 million loan for the proposed 125-key Even Hotel, an IHG brand, at 2005 Northwest 110th Avenue, according to records. Robert Bhat with Marcus & Millichap arranged the financing, according to a press release.
The partnership developing the hotel also secured a separate $7.1 million loan, the release states. Bhat declined to name the lender, and the mortgage hasn’t been recorded in Miami-Dade County records.
The development entity is managed by Miami-based Asi Global, a company specializing in raising capital from foreign investors seeking permanent U.S. residency for themselves and immediate family members by investing in American projects that create jobs, the release states. The green cards are obtained through the U.S. EB-5 visa program.
The managers of Asi Global are Ruben Briceno and Luis Prado of Key Biscayne, Arturo Bohigo Hierro of Coral Gables and Sergio Diaz Gomez of Mexico, corporate records show.
In 2021, the partnership bought the vacant 1.1-acre development site for $2.4 million, records show.
Last year, after congressional reforms were drafted to tamp down on fraud and abuse, the EB-5 program got back on track. Industry groups specializing in EB-5 projects reached a settlement with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services over a pair of lawsuits that alleged the federal government wrongfully terminated 600 regional centers.
The regional centers act as middlemen between investors and project developers. The settlement reinstated the 600 regional centers.
In South Florida, several EB-5 funded real estate developments have been rocked by scandal. Most recently, a Miami-Dade judge authorized the sale of the former immigration building in Miami’s Upper Eastside neighborhood so that the proceeds can be used to pay back more than 100 Chinese investors. Their funds were allegedly mismanaged by a pair of developers who sought to redevelop the property at 7880 Biscayne Boulevard.
In another recent class action lawsuit involving the same property, an investor alleged the immigration building developers misappropriated more than $50 million.