There’s no escaping risk, and there’s no denying the import of the moment, both for his firm and the two towns in question.
Downtown Amarillo is a place where the ’70s never died. The only skyscraper built in the district after 1971 was Amarillo National Bank’s Plaza Two, finished in 1984. City leaders feel an understandable impulse to revitalize. Towns that fail to do this are stones gathering moss.
The case is even more plain in Joplin, where the New York Times wrote last year that “a first-time visitor might gasp at the sight of some of its neighborhoods.” Joplin’s suffering and resilience in the face of it make it a community for which a nation roots.
In this, Wallace appears the part of white knight or a man with an eye for opportunity. If his vision for Amarillo turns to vapor, few people beyond reach of the Texas Panhandle will notice. If the same happens in Joplin, it will catch the nation’s attention. The failure would be spectacular.
It is Wallace’s nature to weigh prospects from precisely the opposite vantage point — “failure is not an option,” he said.