Brownwood council OKs expense for hotel hazard remediation

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
The City of Brownwood has closed off the sidewalk outside the former Brownwood Hotel.

Brownwood City Council members have authorized the expense of up to $49,000 to remediate the hazard of falling glass at the former Brownwood Hotel.

While council members approved the expense Tuesday, the city still wants the owner  to address the hazard of glass falling from the long-vacant, 12-story building at Fisk and Baker in downtown Brownwood. 

If the owner doesn't act and the city bears the cost, the city could place a lien on the property, City Manager Emily Crawford said.

“We have requested that the property owner remediate the falling glass in the hotel property, and as of (Tuesday), that work has not begun yet,” Crawford said. “The city does have the ability to go in and provide the remediation ourselves, but in order to do that, we would have to expend a significant amount of funds.”

The city prefers not to spend on private property, but it's a safety issue, Crawford said. She said the city wants to give the owner time to respond.

"But if we don’t see any activity in the next few weeks, then we will likely proceed," Crawford said.

“Generally what happens is, the city places a lien on the property for the amount of funds that were expended to remediate the safety issue. At that point it becomes a legal debt that the property owner would have to ensure is paid.”

Earlier this month, Tim Murray, director of development services for the City of Brownwood, said via email the owner is accruing civil penalties because the issue of falling glass has not been addressed.

"The city continues to receive reports related to falling glass from the building," Murray said in the email. 

The city has closed the sidewalk along Baker and Fisk around the building to divert pedestrian traffic in that area. 

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.

On Feb. 18, the Building and Standards Commission assessed a $19,500 fine against the owner 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 that assessed the fine for the hazardous conditions. The commission requested “significant and substantial improvements of the conditions” within 30 days.”

If the owner showed significant improvements by the 30-day time limit, the city would  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 in the earlier email.