Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
Thursday, February 2, 2012
Randall Davis Hoping To Attract Rich Foreigners to His Dreamy New Uptown Tower
Where’s Randall Davis gonna find buyers for the glitzy condos in this new 24-story Uptown highrise he’s planning — you know, the kinds of carefree, fun-loving sophisticates who’d regularly leave all the lights on in their bedrooms at night just to make sure the whole building glows like this? In other countries, probably. But they’ll be moving to Houston soon!
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A new venture formed by Davis and a resident of the Cosmopolitan, his last big Galleria-area condo project, was approved last month by the USCIS as a “regional center” under this country’s EB-5 visa program. Under the program, foreigners investing a million dollars in an approved job-creating or -preserving project (or half that amount in a “targeted employment area”) make themselves and their families eligible to become permanent U.S. residents — and can apply for citizenship in as few as 5 years.
Houston EB-5 is looking for 40 such investors to pony up $1 million each for stakes in the development partnership behind Davis’s new Galleria tower. But unlike a similar EB-5 scheme for a hotel headed up by former Houston mayor Lee Brown over in East Downtown, Davis’s project offers investors a potential place to live that they’d be able to sell later as real estate. A PDF flyer touting the EB-5 investment program for the project, called the Astoria, glosses over the distinction between benefits to investors and the tower’s appeal as a residence to condo buyers. “This is a home for a select few,” it reads. “Move your walls to define your living space, mix textures and finishes to please your palette; your vision will become reality. Whether you design your own space or choose to customize a plan, we will make your ideal home come to life. Our only standard is perfection.” [Emphasis in the original.]
Also: Where the Astoria itself is going to go doesn’t appear to be quite settled yet. Designed by Page Southerland Page and featuring 55 2,700-sq.-ft. condos (in floor plans that appear to riff on the configuration of the almost-30-year-old Parklane Condominiums next to Hermann Park), the building is shown sitting smack dab in the middle of the future site of BLVD Place at the southwest corner of Post Oak and San Felipe. The same background view is shown on the website without the tower too, probably photographed from one of the Cosmopolitan condos (the site is at right):