Sunday’s Houston Chronicle had a lengthy article on former Sugar Land mayor David Wallace and his business to help rejuvenate struggling cities. Wallace has apparently closed up shop, leaving several cities in the lurch and investors wondering what happened to their money.
Wallace also was a major backer of BizRadio, an AM network that once broadcast investment advice and other business information in Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, Denver and Colorado Springs. I first wrote about BizRadio after its founders ran afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2009.
Wallace and a business partner, Costa Bajjali, had a firm that offered investors a chance to invest in real estate projects, although large portions of the funds the firm raised were funneled into BizRadio, the Chronicle reported. Although Wallace’s disputes involving BizRadio were settled, he later went on to pitch his services to cities such as Waco and Amarillo to help with redevelopment projects. Few materialized as planned, according to the Chronicle. The biggest deal came in 2011, when the Wallace Bajjali firm was hired to rebuild Joplin, Mo., after it was leveled by a tornado.
As the Chronicle reported:
. . . Officials learned the same lesson that Wallace’s investors had a few years earlier: Neither he nor his company was quite what it seemed. For all the plans and vision statements, they couldn’t make good on their plans.
By the time Wallace Bajjali quietly left town – after receiving $1.7 million in fees from the city and $5 million in a private loan – the partners had failed to get so much as a parking lot built.
The firm apparently closed up shop at the beginning of the year.