You know that hole in the ground on 4th Avenue in Belltown? The one that was supposed to be filled with a 40-story building with apartments and offices? that's an architect's rendering on the left. It's the flip side of Donald Trump's wall: a scheme to get immigrants to pay their way into the US, essentially by buying a special green card.
The Seattle deal was put together by a former Tibetan monk turned real-estate developer named Lobsang Dargey. It was made possible by a loophole in the process for foreigners (almost all Chinese nationals) to get a green card: instead of waiting for years in line with regular immigrants, all they had to do was pony up between $100,000 and $500,000, and Dargey's company, Path America, would plug them into a little-known bypass, EB-5, for wealthy investors.
Not just for themselves but for their families as well. Just write a check.
Path America's court-appointed receiver filed papers yesterday to sell the company's assets, including the Potala tower project. One or two sob stories have appeared highlighting middle class Chinese families that mortgaged everything to buy into the scheme in hopes of moving to Seattle and getting their kids into a good school.
Oh, the Feds say Dargey spent millions of company funds on personal stuff as well. He denies it, though. Yeah, right.
By now, this is the fourth article about Potala on Cornichon. The first, a year after the groundbreaking (attended by Hizzoner, among others), reported on the first suspicions that something was amiss. Within a month, questions were being asked about a missing $46 million. ("Definitely not a Ponzi scheme...") By October of last year, Dargey had turned over the keys to all his projects.
What is it about Seattle? We don't seem to be able to dampen the lure of a quick buck, do we?