Code battle brewing between Rack owner, city

There’s an ongoing code enforcement battle brewing between the City of Bowie and Tawni Jones, owner of several businesses in downtown Bowie.
Jones said she has been directed by the city to bring the second floor of The Rack, which is used as her residence and office, up to code which includes installation of a fire suppression system.
The business owner has played out the conflict across social media recently telling the public it looks like she may have to close her businesses The Rack, The Brick (The Knife at 223 located in The Brick) and Swanky J if she is unable to get the code issues resolved sending some 26 employees to the unemployment line.
She has already closed the former Swanky J, 203 N. Mason, opened since the fall of 2016. Jones said the store will be turned into a gym.
The Rack, 210 N. Mason was purchased by Jones in the summer of 2015 from Andrew Wendt, who renovated the old Russell’s building into the sports bar.
Wendt also created a residential space upstairs. According to fire and code inspections he installed fire suppression and fire alarms downstairs and the fire suppression system was stubbed to the upstairs where it could be extended.

Jones was informed in December she will need to install a fire suppression system upstairs of The Rack in order to remain compliant with city codes with a 60-day time frame.

Read the full story in the mid-week News.

12 Comments on Code battle brewing between Rack owner, city

  1. do the other apartments on top of the downtown buildings have these? If not shouldn’t they have to install these also if this one does?

    • Shelly from what I understand about the code it all depends on the building classification. For example, the apartment above the photography studio has different criteria because it is not an A2 building where more than 100 people can assembly below it. There are several factors considered in the building code. While the second floor above The Brick has been sprinkled and alarmed per the code.

      • The young man that previously owned it lived up there as well. Why was it not enforced when he owned the building, he also had a bar below at that time. This building has been here MANY years for them now to start enforcing this rule and to only give her 6 months to do it, it will take her longer than that to find someone qualified to do it. It seems to me like they are picking on her for some reason

  2. What I don’t get is she claims this to be her residence but yet she has a house she just recently purchased. I think she’s making a bigger stink about the whole issue than what needs to be. Why would you not want to be up to code and protect your investment incase there was a fire?

    • Why should having a house at their Ranch (which is in a huge mess because their Contractor didn’t complete it) have anything to do with her residence above The Rack. Lots of council members and other Bowie residents have homes out at the lake. Why should she let the city bully her. She has never said she couldn’t afford a sprinkler system, I think it’s a matter of principal that she shouldn’t have to spend it. She’s lived there for years. It’s just new harassment plain and simple.

    • The 2nd floor of The Rack has been her residence since she purchased the building and this has been her home all this time. Yes she purchased a ranch as an investment and with the contractor issues of work being half done the place is a disaster. She runs her offices from the 2nd floor as well. Wouldn’t you be upset if you were going through the same issues? It’s never been a problem for her to live there until now. It’s a sad situation

  3. I think the city just needs to leave her alone! She has worked very hard to help the city of Bowie look better , it even has a little class now , if they run her out of town the beautiful building you see now will be boarded up and the town will look like crap again! Just saying!

    • I don’t think they are trying to run her off. They are just asking her to comply with the city code which she is legally obligated to do. I am not affiliated with the city, but as a citizen of Bowie who regularly eats lunch at the Rack, I would want it to be safe. Also, I don’t think events like “midget wresting,” “magic Mike night,” or scatlily clad women wrestling each other has added class to this town. She’s buying up businesses left and right yet claims she can’t afford a sprinkler system? That’s the responsibility of a business owner.

  4. As a council member from the “old school”, I opposed the creation of massive codes that tell citizens what they can do and how they must do it. I dislike the zoning ordinance and basically anything that takes control away from property owners. That said, as I testified on a zoning question, if we must have the ordinances, they must be enforced equally. My preference, of course, is to change the City ordinances or get rid of them. Non-compliance is not a good answer.

  5. Seems to me that if its that important to the owner to maintain the businesses in the city, coming up to fire code wouldn’t be that big of a deal. (Perhaps we need a MORAL code also!) If its the goldmine its been claimed to be by the owner, whats a little bit of money TO ENSURE THE SAFETY OF HER CUSTOMERS and whoever might live up there as well? Fires don’t stop just because there’s a floor! How about the adjoining businesses? Why put them at risk also? Just fix it and stop all the bickering and whining like a child who didnt get the candy bar they wanted! That does more harm than anything, for both the businesses, and the city’s residents! Why must everything be such high drama??? Fix it, move on. There are far more important things to worry about.

  6. Just to be clear, the safety of the customers is not at question here. The downstairs (where the customers have access to) is more protected than any restaurant in bowie! This is only about the upstairs where I live and office. And no one claims It to be a “gold mine” it does well enough to carry the brick, and employ 26 people. And honestly if it’s about the morality of the few events I allow each year, then come forward and say that. Lots of people here have second homes. The last Mayor had a Lake house outside the city limits…. why should our Ranch be any different. The “big deal” is it devalues my building, I purchased a commercial building with a residence above it, basically taking away the residence makes it half of what it was, and means I over paid for it. seeming the second floor “unusable for anything” without adding a 25-30,000 sprinkler system. And now because I say I’m staying and will fight it, they change the rules once again. I’m not changing my residence to another county, because our new officials Want Me to. That’s insane. I deserve to call Bowie my home. And I deserve a mayor that doesn’t tell lies about me. Nothing absolutely nothing says you have to claim homestead rather You simply have to have your primary residence in bowie. I’m in the process of recording the appropriate paperwork to add my homestead exemption. I’ve always lived here and it’s important to me.

  7. And may I add sec 2.02 of our city ordinances says “The mayor and each member of the council must at the time of taking office have RESIDED in the city for the time required by law or be otherwise qualified according to the laws of the state of Texas.” So our mayor is claim that I put in a fraudulent application is another falsity. There is nothing in our ordinances that requires me to have claimed homestead on the property. Her statements at best are extremely misleading.

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