Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Riverwest Hostel In Final Funding Push

Project must raise $100,000 more from investors to complete financing package.

By - Sep 25th, 2018 10:03 am
Future home of Cream City Hostel. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Future home of Cream City Hostel. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee’s first hostel is inching closer to reality.

Developer Juli Kaufmann, in partnership with Carolyn Weber, has raised approximately $900,000 to finance the conversion of the former bank at 500 E. Center St. in Riverwest into a 53-bed hostel.

Kaufmann tells Urban Milwaukee that more than 50 investors have already contributed to the deal, but an additional $100,000 is needed to move forward on construction.

In an email to Urban Milwaukee, Kaufmann describes the next few weeks as “critical days” to keep the project on schedule for a summer 2019 opening.

Weber would operate the hostel. Rooms would be configured to include everything from one- and two-bed rooms for $70/night to 12-bed rooms renting for $15-$25 per bed per night. Weber will be joined by partners Billie Myhra and Wendy Mesich. Kaufmann also tells Urban Milwaukee that she has expanded her role in the project to include serving on the hostel’s management team.

The proposal has been a long time coming. Six years ago Weber began the process of attempting to open a hostel. She sought to lease Kaufmann’s house in Walker’s Point and operate it as a bike shop and hostel, but ran into neighborhood resistance. Since then Weber has opened her Walker’s Point-based bicycle shop, Coast In Bikes, and Kaufmann has relocated to Riverwest.

Weber, too, is a Riverwest resident and sees a hostel as a welcome amenity for the city. She notes that travelers are able to stay in hostels in Madison and Chicago, but don’t have an affordable option in Milwaukee.

She adds that the hostel’s location will not only serve to help foster growth at the intersection of Riverwest and Harambee, but “show people real Milwaukee instead of downtown Milwaukee.”

This weekend Weber will relocate her bicycle shop to a temporary location in Riverwest at 3334 N. Holton St., and eventually to a small space in the first floor of the hostel. She plans to add a “mobile pop-up shop” by using a converted bus as a bike shop on wheels to expand the reach of the business.

Kaufmann has a number of other projects in the works. The Sherman Phoenix project is scheduled to open later this year.

The proposal, which involves purchasing the vacant building from Milwaukee Public Schools, secured the support of the Milwaukee Common Council in February. For more on the project, read our coverage from the land sale hearing.


Those interested in more details on investing in the for-profit project can contact the development team via Facebook or email at

Don’t have the funds on hand to become an equity investor? There is still an avenue to support the project. Kaufmann tells Urban Milwaukee: “We will be kicking off a Indigogo campaign in the next few weeks for smaller amounts and perks including Riverwest24 inside and outside stays during the 24. Also pre-booking hostel stays for the hostel and other fun perks.”

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One thought on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Riverwest Hostel In Final Funding Push”

  1. julikaufmann says:

    Hi Everyone, please reach out if interested. The minimum investment is just $1,000. We really do need more folks to step up to make this happen. Our investor proposal document gives a lot more details on the deal. We are so close, yet not close enough. Thanks to the couple folks who have already emailed. And check out my website if you’d like to see other deals we’ve successfully completed with this crowd-funding model. Thank you Milwaukee, its won’t happen without you. Cheers – Juli Kaufmann

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