Second phase of $200 million controversial Thompson Education Center enters planning in July

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rendering china city
Rendering (from 2013) of the original China City of America proposal for what is now the Thompson Education Center (TEC)

A controversial project in Rock Hill, NY is one of nine projects nation-wide greater than $100 million each that “entered planning” in July, according to Dodge Momentum Index data.

Phase 2B of the $200 million Thompson Education Center (TEC), originally known as China City, is associated with a private international college proposed for a 573-acre parcel in Sullivan County, north-west of NYC.

The project was first introduced as a 2,200-acre “Chinese Disneyland” in May 2013, the Times Herald-Record reported.

It made national headlines and was widely panned because opponents claimed it would have allowed thousands of wealthy Chinese immigrants to enter the country through the federal EB-5 immigrant investor program. They could obtain conditional permanent residency in exchange for making job-creating investments in the U.S.

There’s surprisingly little public information about the project obviously available the Internet. The website chinacityofamerica.com links to several press releases relating to the TEC but offers few other details or current renderings/images.

USA Today reported last year that the project’s developers have made significant contributions to Donald Trump’s political operation. Late in June 2016, Sherri Li, a Long Island businesswoman who once proposed “the sprawling ‘Chinese Disneyland in the Catskill Mountains'”, and Lianbo Wang, described in federal election filings as her corporate board member, donated a combined $600,000 to Trump Victory, the fundraising committee the president established with the Republican National Committee to attract high-dollar contributors, the newspaper reported.

Li is now pursuing the development of a higher-education center on the property she controls in rural New York. Her business plans could intersect with the policies of the new Trump administration on everything from immigration to the regulation of for-profit colleges.

The project reemerged in the public spotlight in April, 2017 when representatives made a presentation before the Thompson Planning Board for a site-plan review.

(The most recent news release relating to TEC announces the developers attended Trump’s inaugural ball in Washington in January.)

John Privitera, an Albany lawyer representing TEC, said in the Herald-Record that the campus would include 732 dorm rooms for 2,508 students. there are also to be 276 homes, including a house for the college president in a “Founding Trustee Village.”

The project, which would be constructed in three phases, would result in 80 acres of developed land and 493 acres of open space, according to TEC.