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What went wrong while choosing Joplin's master redeveloper? - KOAM TV 7

What went wrong while choosing Joplin's master redeveloper?

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Termination letter Termination letter
Termination letter Termination letter
The City of Joplin officially ends its contract with master redeveloper Wallace Bajjali.  We talked with Joplin City Manager Sam Anselm about this termination of contract today.  We also asked Anselm what went wrong with Joplin's partnership with Wallace Bajjali.

David Wallace and Costa Bajjali, co-founders of Wallace Bajjali, have resigned from the company.  But according to Joplin city officials, the company itself is still around.  Joplin's city manager, saying there's no room for chances, is officially, legally terminating the city's contract with its former redeveloper.

"What we had was a situation where there was a company, even though it didn't have any employees to do business, they still were a legal entity and as such we had a contract with them," says Anselm.

Joplin paid Wallace Bajjali about $1.7 million for real estate acquisition and other operational costs.  Anselm wants to recoup that money by selling about 35 acres of now city-owned land to developers.

Looking back on Joplin's partnership with Wallace Bajjali, many residents questioned success from the beginning.

"In my mind, we had a contract with the company, and its my job as a city manager to make sure that that contract is enforced," says Anselm.

Now, Joplin's city manager has advice for any other city that may go through a natural disaster.

"Go slow.  The planning process takes a lot of time, and if you rush through that, I think you're going to run into issues on the back end," says Anselm, talking about going slowly before even choosing a master redeveloper.

"If they (cities) have an opportunity to partner with a firm with disaster experience, I think that's a huge plus.  Frankly, where this relationship started to maybe get off the rails a little bit, was when Wallace Bajjali wanted to be the developer of a lot of these projects, instead of just being the city's expert to help the projects and the developers that came to the table, or to the city to implement a lot of those projects," says Anselm.

In a letter of notice about Wallace Bajjali's contract termination, the City of Joplin cited gross negligence and fraud.  Joplin's city manager would not elaborate or give examples, saying he doesn't want to give out too many details just in case there's a lawsuit on behalf of Wallace Bajjali.

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