Thursday, October 29, 2009

Is Wall Run Just an Emergency Plan B?

Terrence Wall has officially entered the race for U.S. Senate even though his only other runs for office involved his losing twice for Maple Bluff Village Trustee. It just seems odd that Wall couldn't convince those that know him best to elect him. So rather than highlight these pathetic loses, he has made the decision to make this about his development business. In doing so he claims that he is "considered and expert in economic development". But looking beyond the T. Wall press release we find many questions regarding his "expert" claim. Actually some of my recent readings make me wonder if his stock as a businessman is on a steep decline and his run for U.S. Senate is more of an emergency move to save face rather than to serve the public.

On April 30, 2005 the Captial Times gave the details of Wall plans to expand his operation to Arizona and Colorado. The latter never seemed to materialize but according to his website two projects did move forward in Arizona. Unfortunately only the first phase of his Superstition Commerce Park project has been completed. Phase two appears to be on hold while his other Arizona development, the Southern Avenue Marketplace, has apparently not started. An April article in the Arizona Republic entitled "East Mesa office market is overbuilt, analysts say" mentions Wall's project and sheds a bit more light on the subject. A local expert comments in the story that because of the market and the vast amount of square feet in the area of Wall's development it may not become the next big thing for quite a while.

Wall's Arizona projects are apparently not the only expensive endeavors that he is having to sit on for a while. It appears that his Wisconsin-based Bishops Bay development may have been halted as well. This was supposed to be yet another huge development but it seems that investors might not be interested right now.

Not only is Wall having to sit on some of his massive projects but a May 18, 2006 Captial Times story states that "Wall is leveraged to the hilt". That observation was made in 2006 and we all know what has happened to the real estate market since that time. One would imagine that these things plus his stalled projects can't be good for business. So in November 2007 in came the New York based investment fund – Five Arrows Realty, (Rothchild Realty Mangers, LLC), who put some $110 million into T. Wall Properties. They didn't just put money into Wall's company but they also put a couple of their principals on Wall's Board of Directors. Some wonder if New York is now taking over given their transformation of the Wisconsin Trade Center. Besides all of the NY artwork and various corridors named for NY landmarks they are even ditching the Madison themed room names.

An April story in the Wisconsin State Journal reports on the stress in the real estate market. In doing so it reports that Wall laid off six of his 50 employees last year and quotes him lamenting the lousy economy and its negative impact on his business. Add all of this bad news on top of Wall's failed bid to redevelop the downtown library in the City of Madison and it just doesn't paint a great picture.

So if Terrence Wall is really such an "expert in economic development" why would he pick such a bad time to launch a total long-shot run for U.S. Senate? Wouldn't an "expert" want to fully see his business and investors through such a difficult time rather than totally switch his focus? It just seems like really bad priorities and even worse timing if you are really an "expert in economic development". The absurdity of it all really makes you wonder if Wall's choice to switch focus at this time is really his choice in the first place. It really makes you wonder if Wall's run for U.S. Senate is really just a face saving emergency plan B.

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