The $42 billion resort in Garden City, Utah would create 482 jobs in a town with fewer than 600 residents. However, previous resort failures and a little-understood foreign-investment program called EB-5 has some residents concerned that the new resort will flop.
The proposed Waters Edge resort in Garden City, Utah has some residents questioning the financial viability of the $42 million construction, KSL News reported.
The town of Garden City has fewer than 600 residents and the new resort will create an estimated 482 jobs with its 84 rooms, 70 condos, conference facility and 40,000 sq. ft. of commercial space.
The city’s planning commission approved preliminary plans, but some residents wonder if the resort will survive its first winter, as Garden City is a summer town where business booms in July and August and tapers off through fall. Most businesses close for the season when winter comes, KSL News reported.
Residents point to failed ventures in the past as evidence in the lack of demand for such an investment.
The Waters Edge resort is an EB-5 project, a program that originated from the Immigration Act of 1990 as a way to attract international funds for domestic development. It provides green cards for foreign investors and their families, as long as they invest $500,000 in projects that create at least 10 jobs, KSL News reported.
The EB-5 program has been criticized as a “cash-for-visas” exchange, because participating private-sector initiatives receive a commission regardless of a project’s outcome. According to a Los Angeles Times investigation, dishonest tactics such as inflating figures and promising an easy road to citizenship have resulted in investors being deported when they couldn’t comply with the program’s rules. Despite the program’s flaws, more than $2 billion has been invested through EB-5 projects since 1990, with about half of that coming in the last fiscal year, KSL News reported.
Utah resident Hai Huynh is spearheading the overseas recruitment of investors for the Waters Edge resort. He has reached out to business partners in Vietnam, who have reciprocated by investing nearly $20 million in the project.
Garden City Mayor John Spuhler said Waters Edge could be just what the city needs, but added that it still has many hurdles to overcome, including strict financial approval, KSL News reported.
“If they can’t meet financial requirements, they won’t have a project,” the mayor said.