Investigation into Amarillo's downtown revitalization project

Investigation into Amarillo's downtown revitalization project

AMARILLO, Texas---For months, the City of Amarillo has been promoting its downtown revitalization project.

But after a lawsuit surfaced Friday involving the construction company hired to perform renovations, could this project now be a bust?

In February, Amarillo city commissioners approved a $113 million downtown development project.

As we dig into the construction company's background, the foundation of this major city project continues stirring up a lot of questions.

A baseball stadium, hotel and parking garage are all part of the plan.

"It's the spark that starts the engine of downtown redevelopment," says Melissa Dailey, Executive Director of Downtown Amarillo Inc.

In Nov. 2011, the city approved a payment of nearly $947,000 to Wallace Bajjali, a development firm based out of Sugar Land, Texas.

The company is now in hot water as 51 investors have come forward in a lawsuit alleging the company milked them out of nearly $3 million dollars.

It's co-founders, former Sugar Land Mayor David Wallace and Costa Bajjali are being accused of running a massive ponzi scheme.

"This is one of the best public-private partnerships that could be imagined," Mayor Paul Harpole told NewsChannel 10 back in August.

We placed phone calls to the city for comment but neither Mayor Paul Harpole, City Manager Jarrett Atkinson or City Attorney Marcus Norris returned our calls.

As the Wallace Bajjali lawsuit moves forward, many are wondering if the city was thrown a curve ball.

"I think we are still on track and have been working very hard on the contracts that are necessary to move the project forward," Dailey said.

Development Amarillo Inc. suggested the city hire Wallace Bajjali to perform construction and today, Dailey stands confident the project will go through.

"We are looking at these lawsuits as they come up and until we see a problem, I don't see us changing course on this plan."

Our phone calls to Wallace Bajjali for comment were not returned.

Construction plans were originally set for this Spring but we're told that could be delayed.