EB-5-funded hotel opens at Jay Peak

EB-5-funded hotel opens at Jay Peak

Jay Peak Resort co-owner Bill Stenger said that careful timing of their EB-5 funded construction projects creates full-time employment for the workers. Here, an empty ski slope in the background highlights Stenger's goal to turn the ski resort into a year-round destination. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

Construction on the Stateside Hotel was underway last summer at Jay Peak Resort. Photo by Hilary Niles/VTDigger

The new immigrant-funded hotel at Jay Peak ski resort opened Friday with Gov. Peter Shumlin on hand for a ribbon-cutting.

The federal Immigrant Investor program is a cornerstone of Shumlin’s economic development strategy. Jay Peak owners Bill Stenger and Ariel Quiros are by far Vermont’s most prolific developers to avail themselves of the nonconventional capital.

The Stateside Hotel and base lodge opening is the latest in a line of EB-5 funded projects, including the Tram Haus lodge and a four-season water park. At a media tour in September, Stenger said he aimed for a lower price point with Stateside, compared to the high-end accommodations elsewhere at the resort.

The project was built in a modular design, with prefabricated rooms transported from out of state and assembled at Jay. The hotel offers 85 rooms plus a diner, bar, base lodge, retail and rental facilities and an adult ski school. An outdoor amphitheater and a recreation center and are planned for summer 2014 and winter 2015, respectively.

The EB-5 program, named after the immigrant visa it affords, grants conditional visas in exchange for investment in American firms. If at least 10 jobs worth of economic activity in two years can be attributed to the investment, the visa turns into a green card. Vermont’s EB-5 Regional Center is the only one of hundreds in the country that is wholly owned, operated and administered by state government.

Stenger and Quiros plan to raise hundreds of millions of dollars in $500,000 increments to fund expansions at Jay Peak and the mountain’s sister resort, Q Burke Mountain. A biotech firm is in the works for Newport, where an expansive downtown waterfront “Renaissance” hotel and conference center is also planned.

In a progress report on the so-called Northeast Kingdom Economic Development Initiative, the Northeastern Vermont Development Association announced Tuesday that more real estate is changing hands in Newport to prepare for the waterfront development.

The former J.J. Newberry’s Department Store building is under negotiation between Stenger and current owner Tony Pomerleau, NVDA reported. The two-floor building would add 20,000 square feet to the planned Renaissance block development on Main Street. A deal on the Spates block across the street is expected to close in early 2014, followed by razing and redevelopment next summer.

The planned waterfront marina, hotel and conference center, a stone’s throw from Main Street, was originally pitched as a separate business development under the EB-5 program, but has since been rolled into the Renaissance Block. Stenger and Quiros are also negotiating the sale of the waterfront strip mall with Pomerleau.

The Renaissance Block is not yet officially enrolled in the EB-5 program, though Stenger has said he intends to apply.

Expansions at Q Burke Mountain ski resort in East Burke and a Newport location for Korean biotech firm AnC Bio are EB-5 approved.

Hotel development in Burke was delayed till summer 2014, according to Q Burke CEO Ary Quiros, son of Stenger’s business partner. The younger Quiros said he still wants to expand the resort’s recreational attractions with an aquatic center, tennis facility and mountain biking park.

Stenger announced in September that plans to bring German window manufacturer Menck to Newport had fallen through due to job-creation concerns he encountered before applying for EB-5 eligibility.

Another project originally intended for EB-5 funding is still in process, though Stenger and Quiros are funding it with a different financing model. The Newport State Airport in Coventry is owned by the state and managed by the Stenger-Quiros team, who have proposed several expansions, including bringing a small plane manufacturer to the location.

Hilary Niles

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