Convention Center hotel moves forward after long-awaited approval

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Submitted: Mon, 12/16/2013 - 9:37pm
Updated: Mon, 12/16/2013 - 11:10pm

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A convention center hotel is one step closer to becoming reality in Wilmington.

The developer planning on building an Embassy Suites got approval for its financial plan after waiting more than a year.

“We’re making every valid attempt to make this happen,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said.

Wilmington City Council selected Harmony Hospitality back in 2011 to develop the Convention Center hotel. The 186-room Embassy Suites is closer to being a reality after the federal government approved Harmony’s EB-5 investment plan earlier this month. The company had waited more than a year for approval.

“That gave them the opportunity to go out and look for outside investors to go into the project,” Saffo said. “It was an important component for this deal for Harmony Hospitality.”

The EB-5 program allows foreign investors interested in contributing to the $33.6 million project a permanent green card. Harmony Hospitality says it is looking for between 10 and 15 investors to put up at least $500,000 each.

The EB-5 for the hotel is not tied to the EB-5 for another hotel and marina being built next door by Chuck Schoninger, the developer who just sold land nearby to the city for a park.

“This is a separate EB-5 program, separate of Mr. Schoninger’s deal all together,” Saffo said.

Leaders say an agreement between the city and harmony hospitality is being finalized so it can be brought before council either the first or second meeting in January.


  • Vog46 says:

    so we want to deport illegals but if they can “pay they can play”.
    Funny how money talks.

    BTW – although the PLAN to use EB5 is approved that does not mean the people buying in are approved…….


  • SurfCityTom says:

    the EB-5 video on Schoninger’s website? Includes extended comments by Puff Saffo and Jason “let’s step out in the parking lot” former commissioner.

    And, Vog, do you honestly think someone will pony up half a million dollars if their visas are not approved?

  • Rick Wilson says:

    It remains to be seen if the investors can be secured. I find it appalling that permanent green cards can be purchased for $500,000.00. With the lack of available investors that are already citizens of this country, I wonder if the color of money will allow people permanent green cards that would not ordinarily be granted one. This EB 5 program reeks of “admission for a fee.” This project is nothing more than a false savior for a failed project. The Convention Center is a failure and the “attached hotel” will fail with it. They were unable to fund this hotel project with investors already in this country, so now our security is for sale for $500,000.00 per investor. These hotel projects are nothing more that the City Council trying to secure more room tax revenue. What the council refuses to accept is that there is only going to be “X” amount of people staying in hotels downtown each year. Adding an attached hotel to the CC and building a marina and another hotel will not change this…….it just divides the people among more businesses. If this stupidity is allowed to happen, look for some of the downtown hotels to fail in a very short time. Economic development that causes existing businesses to fail is not positive growth………it is damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. This looks good until a torpedo finds its mark. If this project was an intelligent investment, it would already be built. Conning foreign investors out of their money is wrong, especially when these investors might have other reasons that make them willing to purchase their green cards for $500,000.00. Our leaders are short sighted fools that are blinded by the lure of profits that will never materialize…………

  • ChefnSurf says:

    Finally, one step closer! What a relief! We’ve been waiting for so long to hear those words ….. yet once again. Now all they (still) need are those wealthy foreign investors. Investors wealthy enough to throw $500,000 down a sewer pipe in order to buy their way into our country. No problem!

    And the party never ends. LOL

  • Rick Wilson says:

    Has the hilton dropped their lawsuit over the price of the property? I do not think they can proceed if this lawsuit is still active.

  • Vog46 says:

    I watched that video a long time ago.
    As for the VISA’s – without comprehensive immigration reform from Washington I don’t see ANY VISA’s being approved for this or Shoninger’s Shangri-La project.
    But stranger things have happened……..


  • taxpayer says:

    The EB-5 process is something Homeland Security is watching closely due to the ability of terrorists to come here under the guise of investing in businesses.

  • DickHertz says:

    Why worry? The Chinese have conquered Smithfield Foods.

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