Owner of former Brownwood Hotel assessed fine for hazardous conditions

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
The owner of the former Brownwood Hotel, pictured here at the corner of Fisk and Baker, has been assessed a $19,500 fine for hazardous conditions.

The Building and Standards Commission has assessed a $19,500 fine against the owner of the former Brownwood Hotel for failing to address broken windows, falling glass and unsecured entry points that allow access to the building’s interior. 

The commission issued an Administrative Enforcement Order on Feb. 18 that assessed the fine for the hazardous conditions, Tim Murray, director of developmental services for the City of Brownwood, said via email.

The commission requested “significant and substantial improvements of the conditions” within 30 days of the Feb. 18 meeting, Murray said. 

If the owner shows significant improvements by the 30-day time limit, the city will hold off on enforcing the fine. If the owner does not make significant progress, the city will enforce the fine plus an additional fine of $500 per day until improvements are made, Murray said. 

The hotel opened at the corner of Fisk and Baker in downtown Brownwood in 1930, according to browncountyhistory.org.

Joe Renfro, who owned several drug stores in town, spearheaded the building of the hotel at a cost of $600,000.

After closing as a hotel, the building was used for a time as a Howard Payne University dorm known as Sid Richardson Hall.

Still commonly referred to as the Brownwood Hotel, the building has been empty and abandoned since HPU stopped using it as a dorm in 1986.

Brown County Appraisal District records show the current owner of the building as 200 Fisk LLC. Mail to the entity goes to a residence in Woodbridge, Virginia. The woman who lives at that address, Myrna Phelps, has declined to be interviewed by the Bulletin.

Murray said via email:

The Building and Standards Commission met on February 18, 2021. During the meeting the property located at 200 Fisk Avenue known as the Brownwood Hotel was brought before the Commission to address the current conditions that have and continue to exist at the Hotel.

The property’s conditions that were addressed were broken windows, falling glass and unsecured entry points that allow access to the building’s interior. Numerous attempts have been made by the City of Brownwood to encourage the owner to address the hazardous conditions which all have resulted in the owner failing to comply.

With the increased activity and businesses in the downtown area, it has become increasingly important to hold the owner responsible and request the conditions be addressed immediately.