China City Presentation

 

The following discussion reviews the recent presentation of China City by Ms. Sherry Li. As part of the review, I have included some cursory research that I conducted, which may be helpful in providing you with some historical background as to how China City has evolved over the years.

On January 10, 2017, Sherry Li, the CEO of China City (also known as the Thompson Education Center), made an oral and slide presentation before the Monticello Rotary Club1. The proposed 575-acre development, called China City2, is on a parcel of land that is off Route 17, Exit 112, which borders Wild Turnpike in the Town of Thompson and extends to the town of Mamakating. China City will be an educational institution that offers college level courses to students primarily from China. It is expected that the student body will also include Americans, as well as non-Chinese foreign students.

China City will offer four majors: business; movie, media and arts; culinary; and nursing. Depending upon their majors and career goals, some students will matriculate for four years at the college, while other students will be at China City for only one year, while spending the other three years in China where they will graduate. Ms. Li indicated that China City has executed several letters of understanding. One is with Catskill Regional Hospital, regarding the nursing program; and another is with Phoenix, a Chinese media company that is educating 80,000 students. The college will grow in stages, and at its final phase will have a 2,500-student body.

 
 

The majority of the funding for the construction of China City is expected to come from wealthy Chinese nationals seeking to obtain US green cards by obtaining EB-5 Visas. The issuance of this visa is contingent upon a foreigner investing at least $500,000 in a “Targeted Investment Area”, which is defined as a rural or a high unemployment area (150% above the national unemployment level). Sullivan County meets both requirements. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services website (www.uscis.gov) lists by state the approved Targeted Investment Areas (“TIA”). In New York State, there are 98 TIA’s, and some prominent real estate developers, such as Silverstein and Related Companies, are using the EB-5 plan. It appears in Sullivan County that Veria has been approved for EB-5 investors. In my quick scan of the 98 TIA’s in New York State, China City’s EB-5 entity may be listed as Rock Hill Regional Center, LLC (http://rockhillrc.blogspot.com/2012/04/eb-5-news-rock-hill-town-center.html). It is a project proposing the development of a hotel, retail space and the construction of homes. On the government site there is no EB-5 listing for either China City or Thompson Education Center.

Ms. Li is hoping to receive the appropriate approvals and permits from the Town of Thompson and other governmental agencies to begin construction of China City. During the past several years, she has had numerous meetings and hearings with town officials. Although asked during her presentation, Ms. Li was not specific as to what were the issues that she needed to resolve with the Town of Thompson and what the timeframe in addressing them might be. She is seeking community support to assist her in influencing the government officials overseeing the approval process.

1. Past citations about China City and Thompson Education Center are listed at http://www.chinacityofamerica.com/

2. China City has gone through numerous iterations as to scale, purpose and design, e.g., refer to NY Post article dated, December 4, 2013, http://nypost.com/2013/12/04/mysterious-plans-to-build-upstate-ny-china-city-of-america/