June 26, 2012
Lennar Corp., LEN +0.79% one of the U.S.'s largest home builders, is in talks with the China Development Bank for approximately $1.7 billion in capital to jump-start two long-delayed San Francisco projects that would transform two former naval bases into large-scale housing developments, according to people familiar with the discussions.
The negotiations aren't final and the financing arrangement could still fall through. But if completed, the deal would reflect a changing dynamic between the U.S. and Chinese economies, as an American company turns to China for help funding a long-delayed and partially publicly funded project that otherwise wouldn't get done.
The developments, Treasure Island and Hunters Point Shipyard, also have the potential to alter San Francisco's housing market by providing nearly 20,000 new homes, a sports arena and millions of square feet of office and retail space in a market that is land-constrained and has had limited new construction. The city has committed hundreds of millions of dollars, in the form of tax-increment bonds, to the projects, which in total are expected to cost $10.5 billion over the next few decades.
In recent years, Chinese state money—in large part provided by CDB and its counterpart the Export-Import Bank of China—has been pivotal in funding major infrastructure and resource projects around the world, but the bulk of that activity has been in developing countries in Africa, South America and Asia.