Harbourside Place is Florida Regional Center's first project

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While the Florida Regional Center has recently announced its plans to expand into Florida's biotech industry, it is still working on the Harbourside Place project in Jupiter, Florida, which promises to help the community and participants in the EB-5 visa program.

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We began analyzing and researching the program to see if it would be a fit for our business in March of 2009.

While the Florida Regional Center has recently announced its plans to expand into Florida's biotech industry, it is still working on the Harbourside Place project in Jupiter, Florida, which promises to help the community and participants in the EB-5 visa program.

For Nicholas Mastroianni and other members of the Florida Regional Center, which is expecting approval from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services this July, forming an EB-5 regional center was a smart call considering the state of the economy.

"With the condition of the market right now, especially in the immediate area surrounding our current target market, we saw the EB-5 Pilot Program as the perfect opportunity to help create jobs, stimulate the economy and bring an influx of business to the local market," he said. "We began analyzing and researching the program to see if it would be a fit for our business in March of 2009."

Despite their close relationship with the Harbourside Jupiter project, the Florida Regional Center, did not come up with the idea for the revitalization of the town's waterfront, which involves a four-star hotel, a parking garage and restaurant, office and retail space. In fact, according to Mastroianni, the project has been in the town's plans for more than a decade. It was originally developed by Allied Capital & Development of South Florida, where Mastroianni is the vice president of planning and operations.

Allied Capital and Development spent the past four years completing the approval and permitting process, and now the Harbourside project is considered "shovel ready."

The EB-5 visa program gives foreign nationals the opportunity to become eligible for U.S. green cards if they invest $1 million in an American business or project and that investment leads to the creation of 10 jobs. Regional centers were created to help manage and direct these investments. Some regional centers, like the Florida Regional Center, are in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs), and only require a $500,000 investment.

For this project, the Florida Regional Center can place 160 foreign investors, which would raise at least $80 million. The entire cost of the project is $139 million, so not all of the funding is coming from participants in the EB-5 visa program, which makes it unique, according to Mastroianni.

"Unlike other regional center projects around the country that are fully financed by EB-5 funds, Harbourside Place is only raising 57% of the funding from EB-5 investment," he said. "The remainder comes from developer equity, other sources of government funding and tax free municipal bonds."

Helping the Florida Regional Center achieve its goals is Exclusive Visas, an EB-5 consulting firm that assists foreign nationals looking for EB-5 investment opportunities in finding EB-5 regional centers that meet their needs.

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