Sullivan County has seen a lot of developers pitch projects throughout the years but none quite like this one. Our Eva McKend has more on "China City of America" and their plan to replicate the forbidden city in the towns of Thompson and Mamakating.
TOWN OF THOMPSON, N.Y. - A replica of China's forbidden city in their backyard. Some residents have mixed opinions.
"I'm happy to see another star rising on Sullivan County," said Mark Schulman.
"I think it's really crazy. It's too big for the area. It's too much. The infrastructure is not here," said Dave Lybolt.
Developer China City of America's president Sherry Li has big aspirations for the towns of Mamakating and Thompson. Her $6 billion project would boast a luxury development complex with homes, hotels and a Chinese themed amusement park.
"When I came to Sullivan County, I thought this is so beautiful. I love the environment here. I love the trees. I love the water. I love the people here," said Li.
The project would feature 16 dynasties, 56 ethnic parks, spread out over 4.8 million square feet, with the hopes of drawing in more than a million visitors a year.
But how could any developer afford such an extensive endeavor?
There's a little known federal visa program called EB5. Investors from other countries can receive a green card for the US if they invest half a million dollars in a business in an underemployed rural county like Sullivan.
Both the town of Thompson and Mamakating supervisors say though this project is in its early stages, any opportunity for development is worth examining.
"It’s a six billion dollar project and I think we have to listen," said Town of Thompson Supervisor Tony Cellini.
"It’s a huge project for the area. We will find out all of the points down the road. Obviously a big development has good points, bad points," said Town of Mamakating Supervisor Harold Baird.
This isn't the county's first big ticket presentation but if last year's 9 billion dollars of real estate investment in the US by the Chinese is any indication, there just could be a piece of ancient China coming to Sullivan County.