Local politicians say they were blindsided by the de Blasio administration's announcement Thursday that it will provide no financing for the New York Wheel, the tourist attraction proposed for Staten Island's north shore.
But it's even worse news half a world away in China, where hundreds of families had hoped to parlay their investments in the wheel into American citizenship for themselves and immediate family members.
EBS Visa expert Mona Shah tells NY1, "I believe their money has been used, we’re not sure whether they would even get anything back."
The wheel's developers had relied on a controversial visa program known as EB5, which allows foreigners who invest $500,000 in job-creating real estate projects to receive green cards.
Four hundred and twelve investors ponied up $500,000 each, raising $206 million for the wheel's construction, through the company CanAm Enterprises.
Now, those investors may lose their money and a shot at citizenship.
Shah tells NY1, "If they’ve lost their green card, and their opportunity for a green card, and they’ve lost their money, that’s pretty tough."
Work at the site stopped more than 16 months ago.
The contractor and the developer sued each other and gave themselves until September 11 to raise the money to complete the project or kill it.
Borough President James Oddo says he was stunned the city Economic Development Corporation came down so hard against city financial support.
"I do want the wheel to have an opportunity to demonstrate a pathway of help the city could provide short of using tax dollars," Oddo said. "I don’t understand why EDC would issue such a definitive statement at this point."
Wheel officials say they're also surprised by the administration's decision. They insist that negotiations with the contractor continue and that they're committed to the project.
Still, with an expected cost of $999 million, it's hard to see where the money will come from, and how hundreds of foreign investors will become U.S. citizens.