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Hudson Yards. Photo: Gary Hershorn/Getty Images

There are lots of reasons not to like Hudson Yards, the vast new city-within-a-city on the west side of Manhattan. Among them: $1.2 billion of the funding for the project came from the EB-5 visa program, with even more money on the way.

The big picture: The EB-5 visa was designed to reward foreigners for investing in remote rural areas, or distressed urban ones. Hudson Yards is hardly distressed. So Kriston Capps at CityLab used FOIA requests to find out how EB-5 money ended up being used in one of the richest parts of America.

Illustration: Mark Byrnes/CityLab

The map above shows a "targeted employment area" where unemployment is more than 150% of the national average. It includes dense housing projects in Harlem, where unemployment is high, as well as commercial areas of midtown Manhattan, where the population is extremely low. Connecting them is Central Park, where the population is zero. Overall, the unemployment rate in the gerrymandered area is high enough for Hudson Yards to be eligible for EB-5 funding.

  • Only 10,000 EB-5 visas are issued per year. Hudson Yards could easily have used up an entire year's worth of such visas — meaning none left over for investments in genuinely distressed areas.

By the numbers: Hudson Yards has received some $6 billion of taxpayer assistance to date, including New York City paying $359 million of bond interest payments when the developer didn't have the money.

Go deeper

Updated 11 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

Biden delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the Capitol. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: The Celebrate America event, with remarks by Biden and Harris.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

President Biden faces a deeply broken America

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As President Biden begins his term in office today, he'll be tasked with leading a country beset with deep, long-term problems.

Why it matters: Though the pandemic has made them worse, existential challenges around inequality, social alienation and political division in the U.S. were in place well before SARS-CoV-2 arrived on American shores. The country's future will depend in large part on whether the choices made over the next four years can flatten the curve of American decline.

Facebook, Instagram transfer accounts, followers to Biden administration

Screenshot of official White House Facebook account.

Facebook on Wednesday confirmed that it is transferring the millions of followers of the official Facebook and Instagram White House accounts to the Biden administration.

Details: The accounts for "@POTUS," "@VicePresident" ("@VP" on Instagram) and "@FLOTUS" are having the followers from their personal Pages and accounts be transferred over. It's unclear when that transition process will be complete.