The project to build a hotel and high-rise luxury residential condominium units in Agat is being marketed online to foreigners who want a green card for their investment.
The EB 5 U.S. visa program for foreign investors “allows permanent residency in the USA,” according to the website for the proposed Sirena Guam Grand Hotel and Residences.
The project is being proposed by a group of multinational investors, led by Pacific Asian Developments Ltd., or PADL, which is registered in the Bahamas and has British national David F. Jacka for its chief executive officer.
PADL has an ongoing luxury resort and casino development on Carabao Island, next to internationally known resort island of Boracay, in the Philippines.
PADL’s primary target for its resort development is China, according to the company.
Chinese buyers spent $37 billion on international residential properties in 2014, according to PADL.
PADL and one of China’s major hotel and hospitality chain, Plateno Hotels Group, which owns more than 6,000 hotels under 14 brands in China, following a recent merger, is a partner in PADL’s project in the Philippines and a potential partner in the Agat development, according to PADL.
The proposed Guam luxury hotel and condominium project will rise 15 stories tall across from the Agat Marina, just a few minutes from Naval Base Guam.
The hotel will be the first large-scale luxury hotel development in southern Guam and is in line with Guam Visitors Bureau’s goal to encourage tourism infrastructure development away from crowded hotel row in Tumon Bay.
While the project is being promoted as a way to create jobs and stir economic development in southern Guam, not all southern Guam residents welcome the project.
A new group, called Save Southern Guam (#SaveSouthernGuam), which has more than 1,600 members as of Monday, has voiced concern about the proposed development.
“The greatest charm of the southern half of Guam are our beautiful and sleepy little villages … They are far from the hustle and bustle of busy, overbearing and congested Tumon and Tamuning,” the group’s Facebook statement says, in part. “If this development moves forward it will change our lives in the south forever.”
The Guam Economic Development and Commerce Authority, which markets the EB 5 visa program to foreign investors, has been approached by the Agat hotel project’s proponents.
GEDA offers tax breaks and other incentives to new hotel developers in light of GVB’s goal to increase tourism arrivals from 1.3 million a year to 2 million tourists by 2020. To support that goal, Guam would need additional hotels that can build 1,600 new rooms, according to GVB estimates.
Under the EB 5 visa program for foreign investors, the investor and his/her spouse and children under 21 years of age receive conditional permanent residency, or “green card” status, for a two-year period, according to GEDA.
The investor is required to make a minimum investment of $1 million and create 10 full-time jobs for U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
But in high unemployment areas, an EB 5 visa can be had for a minimum investment of $500,000, according to GEDA’s online information on the program.
The national unemployment rate is at 5 percent, while Guam’s is at 7 percent.
According to GEDA’s information, “non-commercial activities, such as owning a personal residence, do not apply.”
The proposed Agat hotel and luxury residences project is being marketed as a real estate investment for commercial or rental purposes.
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