A US businessman is backing a luxury residential development in the South Island with an eye to gaining permanent residency in New Zealand.
The Dallas News reports that Trammell S. Crow and his partners Allen Cullum and Chris White hoped the development near Twizel would be the first in series of projects here.
"We are there for the long term and looking at additional residential developments," Cullum said. "It's a beautiful country."
Crow said the investment in the housing development would get him permanent residency and that although he was not planning to move to New Zealand he would spend more time here, the Dallas News reported
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Crow visited the area last year for the first time.
"I wasn't hunting for a new real estate development in a far-flung country to mess with," he said. "But I have been thinking for a long time where to go if things become difficult in America — not really just for social unrest but because of environmental concerns."
The luxury residential project called Merino Downs would have room for 34 high-end homes.
Real estate firm Sotheby's said bare sections sized between 5000 and 6000 sqm were selling for between $375,000 and $435,000, and an example show home would cost between $1.2 million to $1.5m to build, Fairfax reported.
Crow was the founder of the world's largest Earth Day, EARTHx, the Dallas News reported
"Being immersed in the environmental world for 10 years now, there are some countries that are just closer to nature," he said. "It's closer to the land in New Zealand."