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Kushner Companies' Jersey City project may be in trouble after WeWork backs out

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A pitch to Chinese investors that alluded to the president is just one of the project’s problems

Rendering via Woods Bagot

Kushner Companies’ Journal Square project, One Journal Square, may be in jeopardy now that WeWork has backed out of its lease there, and the city has refused to commit to a tax break at the site, Bloomberg has learned.

In June last year, news emerged that WeWork was planning a co-living space in one of the two towers that would make up One Journal Square. WeWork, however, quietly backed out of the project, where it was going to have a 50 percent ownership stake in one of the two towers, according to Bloomberg.

The tax breaks committed to the project were contingent upon WeWork’s presence in the building and the creation of a tech hub there. But with that no longer in the works, Jersey City has reneged on backing the project. Over the weekend, Jersey City’s mayor, Steve Fulop, announced that the city would no longer back One Journal Square, only saying that the project “doesn’t work for us.”

That revelation followed another breaking story over the weekend that Nicole Meyer, Jared Kushner’s sister and a current principal at Kushner Companies, was pitching Chinese investors to attract $150 million in funds for the One Journal Square project.

What raised concerns, however, was the fact that Meyer pointed to her brother’s position in the White House and showed a picture of President Donald Trump in her pitch to Chinese investors, both in Beijing and Shanghai, according to Bloomberg.

Kushner Companies is trying to obtain these funds through the EB-5 visa program, under which foreign investors can get a two-year visa for themselves and their family members, provided they make a $500,000 contribution to job-creating developments in the U.S. In many cases, this also puts on them track for permanent residency. The program has faced a pushback in recent years with one of the most notable critics being California senator Diane Feinstein.

The pitch to Chinese investors also revealed that the project costs had risen to $1 billion and the number of apartments had also doubled from the originally proposed 744. Plans once called for these apartments to be spread out between two towers, one at 56 stories and one at 79.

Construction hadn’t yet begun on the project, but for now, its future is uncertain.