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Invest in Manteca, get a visa
Wealthy immigrants may finance Trails of Manteca
Foreign investors may fund the Trails of Manteca in exchange for permanent residency. - photo by RYAN BALBUENA

The Trails of Manteca is more than just the largest housing subdivision ever proposed for Manteca.

It is also a $23.5 million ticket for wealthy immigrants to gain visas for permanent United States residency for as many as 47 investors, their spouses, and children under 21 years of age.

The 477 acres project near the western end of Woodward Avenue is being pursued by Next Bay Properties based in Alamo. The project is composed of 1,673 living units. That compares to the city’s existing largest subdivision at Del Webb at Woodbridge with 1,450 buildable lots.

Next Bay is utilizing the “EB-5 Visa Program”. That’s shorthand for the United States Citizenship and Immigrant Service Employment-Based Immigration Fifth Preference Investor and Visa Program. The program has been in place since adoption of the Immigration Act of 1990.

The minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million for an investor to gain permanent residency. However, in high unemployment areas such as Manteca with the jobless rate at 13.5 percent that threshold is dropped to $500,000. That means legal firms that specialize in working with foreign nationals to access the program could use the Trails of Manteca as a means to help up to 47 foreign  investors and their qualifying family to obtain permanent United States residency.

The primary rules of the EB-5 Visa program require the $500,000 investment, they must have a role in managing the business, and the investment must create at least 10 new U.S. jobs. A conditional green card is then issued to the investor, spouse and children under 21.

Some provisions of the program allow management of the business on a limited basis. The investor also would not need to reside near the location of the business or - in this case - housing development.

Federal law requires the investor to prove their capital was “lawfully gained.” They also must enter the United States within 180 days of a visa being issued. The holder of the EB-5 visa isn’t required to physically remain in the country for any amount of time. However, they must demonstrate their intent to be a resident. This can be accomplished by renting or buying a home, opening bank accounts, obtaining a Social Security number, obtaining a driver’s license, and paying applicable taxes.

There are 10,000 visas available through the EB-5 program annually with 3,000 of them reserved for investors.

Two year deadline to get work started

The law requires the investment to be put to use within two years of the application being approved.

That means once foreign investors buy into the Next Bay investment set up as a limited holding company known as Wetherbee Properties, work must be underway.

The Trails of Manteca already has a tentative subdivision map approved. If Next Bay acquires its first EB-5 Visa investors by mid-2012 that means work must be underway by no later than mid-2014.

The $23.5 million is what Next Bay indicated is needed to do the initial phase of the project. Overall, it wil contain 1,191 single family homes and two apartment complexes with 482 units.

The federal government has approved the Next Bay project for eligibility for the EB-5 Visa Program.

An economic consultant retained by Next Bay  has determined the Trails of Manteca project will create and sustain about 529 full-time jobs in the targeted construction industry during the five-year development life for the project. That meets the minimum job creation threshold.

The Manteca City Council on Tuesday is being asked to adopt a resolution supporting the Next Bay financing plan. Although the council’s blessing isn’t required, it will help Next Bay’s application carry more weight. It also would reaffirm their approval of the tentative subdivision map for Trails at Manteca.

The city will not be required to contribute any financing.

Next Bay Properties was started in 1975 as Utal Properties. The firm has developed land in Florida, Texas, and California. That includes more than 360 projects ranging from residential subdivisions, neighborhood shopping centers, restaurants, professional office complexes, and such.

Next Bay’s projects have been started and completed in two years. The Trails of Manteca will be an exception to that due to its size.

Next Bay also has no debt.

About the Trails of Manteca plan

The proposed Trails of Manteca neighborhood located in the southwest portion of the city at the western end of Woodward Avenue is the first to have common areas - including 75 acres of parkland - irrigated with reclaimed water from the Manteca wastewater treatment plant.

The developer is being required to install an 8-inch purple pipe system that will stub at Woodward Avenue for connection to the future city effort to use treated wastewater for irrigation to reduce the use of expensive treated drinking water of that purpose.

Landscape irrigation for parks as well as residential lots is the biggest use of water in the city. Reducing the amount of drinking water used will conserve water as well as expand Manteca’s supply.

The planned Trails of Manteca definitely won’t be a typical Manteca neighborhood.

It will bump the 1,450-lot Del Webb at Woodbridge as Manteca’s largest subdivision when it is built out.

What makes it different, though, are its features:

•It will have 75 acres of parks land and open space that is roughly five times the current ratio of parkland to a single family home in a typical development.

•Setbacks for front, back and side yards will be shortened to accommodate smaller single-family homes that in turn is expected to keep housing prices down.

Back yards that border parkland and open space will have wrought iron “view fences”.

•It will include seven roundabouts including two on Woodward Avenue.

•There will be three bus turnouts on key streets including two on Woodward Avenue which is another first for Manteca.

•All street maintenance and operating costs will be collapsed into the landscape maintenance district.

•Sidewalks will be departed from the street by a grass strip.

•It will include a clubhouse for residents.

•There will be 12 miles of trails for bicycles and pedestrians within the neighborhood.

Two separate projects being advanced along with the Trails of Manteca will bring the number of housing units being created to 2,439 housing units between McKinley Avenue south of the Highway 120 Bypass and a slough that drains into the San Joaquin River.

They are:

•Machado Estates with 575 lots is located on the southwest corner of Airport Way and Woodward Avenue. The environmental impact report has been certified. The land hasn’t been annexed yet to Manteca.

•Terra Ranch near McKinley Avenue and the Highway 120 Bypass. It features 193 lots that will be developed by Anderson Homes and a 200-unit apartment complex being pursued by AKF Development.