An EB-5 investment firm searched the state for a potential prosperous development, and decided to bet on a Hialeah warehouse project. And it has another $125 million to drop.
CanAm Enterprises, founded 33 years ago in Canada, invested $50 million into the Countyline Corporate Park project in August. The money will fund construction of 1.2 million square feet of warehouse space. Flagler Global Logistics, a subsidiary of the Downtown Miami-based development and investment firm Florida East Coast Industries, is developing the 8.4 million-square-foot industrial park running from Northwest 154th to 170th streets and Northwest 97th to 107th avenues in Hialeah.
The New York-based firm caters to EB-5 Visa applicants. The federal program allows foreign investors to spend a minimum of $900,000 — up from $500,000 as of November — on a real estate project that would spur job growth in exchange for a two-year green card.
“The Miami industrial space was a no brainer for us,” said CanAm Enterprises COO Christine Chen. “Industrial assets are appealing with our day-to-day living. For us, it felt like a safe project to get into. E-commerce is thriving right now.”
A recent sale boosted the firm’s confidence in the project, Chen said. FECI sold two warehouses, totaling 412,132 square feet, at Countyline Corporate Park for $61 million in July.
The investment into Countyline Corporate Park is supported by about 100 applicants — most from China with some from India, Taiwan, and across Europe, Chen said. The prospectus calls for investors to receive financial returns within five years.
CanAm Enterprises must invest another $125 million before the summer 2021, she said. It is looking across Florida for a half-dozen multifamily, office, or industrial developments.
“Like most, we are scrutinizing the hospitality sector, because that sector is struggling to come back,” Chen said. “We expect more opportunities in major cities, like Tampa, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. For us, it’s if the project profile is a fit.”
The EB-5 Visa program may be developers go-to source for capital with banks walking away from new investments, Chen said. By summer 2021, CanAm Enterprises will have invested a total of $200 million supported by 400 investors in projects across Florida. That includes a $25 million investment made in 2020 to an Everest Group development in Orlando.
“At a time when capital is stiff, there were a lot of projects that were shovel ready and banks backed out. EB-5 can play a compelling role in projects that are meeting challenges in the COVID economy,” she said. “Borrowers and investors should be open- minded about the ways that EB-5 can play a role in their projects.”
CanAm Enterprises expanded into the U.S. market 17 years ago. Since then, the firm has helped fun two projects in Miami, both with FECI: a $350 million investment in Brightline rail in 2015 and $135 million for the transit-oriented components of MiamiCentral Station in 2017.
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