Green acres - and green cards too


Thinking of emigrating? €1 million could buy a home, farm and restaurant business 80 miles from Boston – and get you and your family green cards too, writes FRANCES O'ROURKE

TULLY MILL comes with an Irish pub, a restaurant, a 200-year-old house and a pig farm – and the promise of green cards for you and your family. Because despite its name, Tully Farm isn’t another Irish country house in a rain-sodden corner of our island – but a property 80 miles west of Boston in the state of Massachusetts, USA.

The business and farm on 8.3 acres is for sale for just over €1 million ($1.5 million) and an Irish entrepreneur willing to spend that much – and to employ 10 US citizens in his or her new business – could be eligible for the US’s EB-5 visa for immigrant investors.

The big prize of this visa is that you and your immediate family – spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 – could get permanent residency green cards within a year or less of moving to the US.

It could be tempting to a business family in the catering trade looking for pastures new. The US is seen as a good market to invest in, because of the euro/dollar exchange rate, the fact that it’s possible to raise finance at reasonable rates in the US – and recent reports that the real estate market there has reached bottom.

Tully’s owner, Steve Thompson, bought a 1,858sq m (20,000sq ft) derelict furniture factory next to his pig farm in the village of Tully in 1998, and converted it into a space housing a 65-seat Irish-style pub, a 200-seat restaurant, 70-seat bar and a retail space. He closed it two years ago for personal health reasons, but the business was going strong, says Thompson: the restaurant’s weekly revenue was over $20,000 (€13,364).

He had 30 employees at one time, and says it could easily employ 10. All the restaurant furnishings, appliances and equipment are included in the sale. “All new owners need to do is buy groceries.”

Thompson, who’s a chiropractor in Boston, is in touch with his Irish roots and it was friends from Kilkenny who suggested he pitch his property at Irish buyers.

But while his grandfather came from Cork to settle at Tully, a village on the outskirts of the town of Orange, Massachusetts, in 1918, he doesn’t know how it got the very Irish name of Tully. (The town of Orange, however, was settled in 1746 and was named after William of Orange.)

Thompson grew up in Tully and bought the property that he turned into a pig farm in the 1980s, overseeing the building of its dry stone walls himself. His brothers and sister still live in Tully, and he commutes there at weekends.

The restaurant he is selling is a large open dining area and the bar overlooks the original mill pond. The building has two full kitchens. Heating and cooling are assisted by a geothermal heat exchanging unit which uses the water supply that powered the former factory.

As well as the business, there’s a restored 250-year-old “antique Cape” two-bedroom house completely rewired and with new plumbing. (“Antique Cape” is a Cape Cod-style period house.)

It has a screened-in porch and a loft and outside, a large stone patio. There’s a large barn with a machine shop, and a 93sq m (1,000sq ft) apartment over it, five outbuildings, landscaped grounds and a waterfall. A brook on the property feeds into a branch of the nearby Tully river.

The property could be bought in two lots, the house for €575,000 and the restaurant complex for €925,000, although he would much prefer to sell it as one property.

Thompson is considering partial financing for a buyer “with a good business plan and the necessary experience and capital to initiate the plan”.

Orange is a town with several industries and a population of just over 7,000 in a rural setting. The first car manufacturer in the US was set up there in 1900.

It’s a good tourist area, with all kinds of sports opportunities says Thompson, from skiing to fishing – and the area is “conservation land”, so protected from overdevelopment.

Agent Philip Sherry of Christies Great Estates – Sherry FitzGerald is its exclusive Irish affiliate – is handling the sale here.

For more information on the US’s investor visa program, google EB-5 Visa.