It shouldn't be socializing the system; it shouldn't be trying to correct the ills of the world. That philosophy made Wall's conflict with Progressive Dane inevitable. Konkel, for one, thinks it caused his clash with the city on lobbying. As little as a year ago, Wall didn't have many nice things to say about Dave Cieslewicz either.
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He felt Madison's mayor was also intent on pushing a "social agenda" during his first term in office, undercutting local businesses - particularly developers - in the process. At times, the regular column Wall continues to write for In Business magazine read like a serialized anti-Cieslewicz screed. Wall's agitating didn't end with mere words. Unhappy with how the Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce handled the affordable-housing ordinance, sick leave and the lobbying issue, he helped form two powerful new business groups: the now-defunct Common Sense Coalition and the vigorously pro-business Smart Growth Madison.
In , after the lobbying brouhaha, he swore off developing new projects in Madison altogether. I love the community. I've always believed in a strong downtown. But the council was full of ideologues who just killed things for petty reasons. Wall's willingness to take on government and shout down proposals that cost developers and other business interests time and money draws praise from some quarters. The city of Madison thought it could do what it wanted and developers would have to play its game.
So the city of Madison didn't have quite as much of a stranglehold as it thought. Not all business types express this level of admiration. At times, Wall's abrasive, in-your-face style has irritated would-be allies.
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During the lobbying affair, there was grumbling from what was then an apolitical Madison Chamber of Commerce. Other developers also distanced themselves from his most aggressive attacks, understanding that, for better or worse, getting government to approve projects and cultivate a propitious climate for business requires a certain finesse. But Wall didn't seem to care what his colleagues in the business community or Madison's upper crust thought about his outbursts.
He wanted to shake things up. And no one wanted to rock the boat.
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I don't believe in going along with the status quo. I don't believe in change for change's sake, but when I see a need that is unfulfilled I want to see it fixed. What stands in the way of things being fixed is usually politics. And I don't just mean elective politics. It's also the social establishment. You have to do things based on their merits, not because you're afraid someone will disagree with you and not be your friend. Wall's feisty disposition doesn't come by accident. As the second youngest of 11 siblings, he had to grab attention when he could and fight for a place at the dinner table.
At least figuratively. His family was hardly poor. While the Wall kids were growing up, their dad, John Wall, was transforming Madison-based Demco into the world's largest library-supply company. Indeed, his father's willingness to guarantee loans and family investments in T. Wall Properties was at least partially responsible for his rapid rise in the local real estate development scene.
Wall says growing up around a burgeoning business helped give him the courage to create his own firm. But his combative personality springs from a different kind of education. When you see that and spend three and a half months in the hospital, you start to think, 'Maybe I don't have so much time. It's probably why I'm so driven.
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I know every day should count. You should never waste a day. And it drives me crazy when things are dragged out for no good reason. Recently, Wall has softened his approach toward city officials. He argues that the reason for the change is simple: Once Progressive Dane failed to secure a majority of seats on the Common Council in the election, the local political climate got better for developers.
Of course, Smart Growth Madison helped push a pro-business agenda. And he credits chamber president Jennifer Alexander for getting the business body to actively urge the council and Mayor Cieslewicz to respond to the private sector's concerns. So finally I called him up and said, 'Terrence, let's go to lunch. I want to know why you think the city's such a terrible entity.
By opening the dialogue, I think he heard things from my perspective that he probably hadn't heard before. I think it's just easier to hate the devil you don't know. Once the lines of communication were opened, Wall quickly hatched his plan for the Central Library.
Cieslewicz likes that Wall sketched out public and private uses for the site, including street-level retail in an area that's largely bereft of it. He also likes that the building itself would feature urban greenspace in a distinctive cut-out section of the structure. Most of all, Cieslewicz likes the fact that this voluble, well-known member of the development community was taking a very public chance on the downtown and paying for the initial planning.
Right now, says Cieslewicz, philanthropic interest "has been lacking. But with Wall onboard, that could quickly change.
Through his father's role in Demco, Wall learned to love libraries. He understands that the contemporary public library is no longer simply an accessible storehouse for books.
Instead, they're open, inviting places that offer Internet access, meeting rooms, areas for people to connect and participate in cultural exchange. By co-locating the new library in a structure with private offices and businesses, he expects library use to increase, just as it has in other cities with modernized facilities. If your home has just come off the market and did not sell, don't be discouraged. The reason your home did not sell may have nothing to do with your home or the current market. In reality, your home may have been one of the more desirable properties for sale at that time.
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