Saving Potala Tower
I was called in to run the first meeting with investors from the 41-story $190 million Potala Tower EB5 project in Seattle, Washington. The EB5 Group had just taken over the project after the original investor diverted funds from the project to buy a house and gamble. A court appointed receiver chose our company out of 13 companies to take over the project and finish construction. Chinese EB5 investors were left with a choice, stay in the Potala Towers Project or take back only half of their money and leave the EB5 program. I was called in to interpret the meeting with our company and 35 investors in Beijing. Our goal was to keep 70% + of the investors in the program, otherwise our company would need to drop the project.
From the start, the meeting was contentious. This is also the most difficult interpretation I have done in my life. The 35 angry investors only spoke Chinese and were asking questions to get information for lawsuits. Another developer, who spoke Chinese and English, was part of the meeting. He had sold the Potala Tower project to many of the investors. But, he had his own agenda. He wanted the investors to leave the project so that he could have the hope of taking of the project in court. He was also answering questions from the investors. Finally, one of our developers, who only speaks English, was answering questions. I needed Chinese in one ear to interpret for the Chinese investors to our developer, make sure not to say anything that could set off a lawsuit and keep the other developer from getting the investors to leave the project. I had English in the other ear fielding questions from our developer and giving real-time updates to him.
We kept enough investors in the program that we were able to save the construction of the Potala Tower.
Belleville, New Jersey Mixed Use Towers, 25 minute drive from Manhattan
After finishing the acquisition of the Solaris Assisted Living Facility, Alex and his boss went in search of a large high-risk, high-reward real estate investment. After touring several greenfield projects across the United States, Alex directed his manager to choose the $1 billion Belleville, New Jersey towers project. The project was to be called the Imagine Center and was going to build on an old rail line to New Jersey Penn Station to drop the commute time to Manhattan to under 30 minutes. Alex created a powerpoint presentation and returned to China to find investors for the project. After finding several investors, Alex made all of the arrangements for them to come to America and meet with the other stakeholders in the development. Alex was the primary interpreter for meetings with the local town council, investment banks and lawyers.
Outcome – The investors purchased the land for the development for $4 million, but ultimately the zoning for the development was not approved.
Meeting with investors and the Belleville Town Council.
Concept art of the Imagine Center with Manhattan in the background.
Montage Hotel, San Diego, California
I wanted to do American investment immigration with customers from China so I spent months searching for the best investment project I could find. The Montage Hotel in San Diego was one of the best projects in the market. Montage had already broken the record for most expensive hotel sale price per room in California and was looking to expand. I took over the position of marketing and training sales staff in China. I redesigned the powerpoints, marketing pamphlet, marketing flyers and even created a website for training staff, www.EB5Training.com. Marketing took me across Asia to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Hong Kong, Tianjin, Beijing, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Shanghai, Changzhou, Xiamen and Guangzhou.
Outcome of Tens of millions dollar in near-zero percent loans, hundreds of jobs for American workers and dozens of green cards for Chinese families.
“Scan to see Montage Hotel Wechat dynamic marketing flyer designed by Alex”
Solaris Assisted Living Facility, Poway, California
In 2013, the housing market was seeing a resurgence and investors from China were interested in real estate investments with long-term appeal. Assisted living facilities were the perfect match and I set to find them in the San Diego area. After an exhaustive search, I settled on a set of assisted living facilities in Poway, California, just 30 minutes outside of San Diego. I then created a powerpoint presentation, went back to China and started pitching investors. After securing several investors, I set up trips to come back to Poway to survery the investment property with investors. After the investment phase, I decided to try and raise the income of the houses as much as possible. The previous owner/operater had an MD and MBA, but, within 2 months of managing the assisted living facility I had filled all of the beds and broken previous income records. I had found that the assisted living facility industry was incentivizing its salespeople the wrong way. Previously, and in most places, salespeople are paid ½ month of bed rent as commission. I structured the incentives so that we got long term patients at healthy rates.
Outcome – $11 million was invested in the assisted living facilities and I raised monthly income from $65,000 to $79,000.