Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Supervisors Endorse Airbnb Renovation Plan For Dilapidated Greendale Farmhouse

Entrepreneur will redevelop historic Stelzer barn and farmhouse into short-term rentals.

By - Sep 14th, 2023 10:25 am

Barn at intersection of W. Loomis Rd. and Root River Parkway that formerly served as youth hostel. Photo by Milwaukee County Parks.

A plan to redevelop a historic farmhouse owned by Milwaukee County Parks received its first approval from the Milwaukee County Board.

Greendale entrepreneur, Virginia Emmons, plans to lease and rehab the historic Stelzer farmhouse and barn near the intersection W. Loomis Road and S. Root River Parkway in Greendale.

Emmons plans to renovate the dilapidated buildings and make them available for short-term rental — on services like AirBnB — and events. According to Parks, a bicycle-related business may also be included, given the project’s proximity to the Oak Leaf Trail.

The property has been vacant for years and the buildings have been left in a state of disrepair. The barn, in particular, is so run down Parks has the property slated for demolition.

“When a property gets to that level of disinvestment, really the only option we have is removal for public safety,” Deputy Parks Director Jim Tarantino told the board’s Committee on Parks and Culture. 

Parks estimates the repairs needs at “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Emmons was born and raised in Greendale. The village was created in the 1930s as part of the New Deal and Emmons said her grandparents were among the first residents. And as it turns out, the Stelzer barn was part of the founding of Greendale. The U.S. government purchased the Stelzer farm to create the Village of Greendale.

Emmons said preserving the history of the site is “imperative.”

“I have been driving by the project for many years, and I saw it just continuing to go into disrepair,” Emmons sad. “And so I reached out to the county a couple of years ago, actually, and learned that it was slated for demolition.”

Emmons developed a park improvement proposal for the buildings and Parks released a competitive request for proposals to see if there were any other interested parties.

Under the deal with Parks, Emmons’ Two Weathervanes LLC will lease the buildings for 25 years with five renewals of 10 years each. As payment, Parks will get a 15% cut of net revenue generated at the property.

Tarantino said the department is “fortunate” to have “citizens coming forward and saying ‘let us improve this asset, save it, give it a future.'”

Emmons said that while others may be scared off by a rehabilitation project, she is not. She told the committee her family worked on the historic preservation of the Pabst Mansion and the Riverside Theater.

“I believe this project is a great opportunity to save this historic barn in Greendale,” said area Supervisor Kathleen Vincent. “The rehabilitation and transformation of the barn and former Youth Hostel will ensure that this property does not fall into further disarray.”

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One thought on “MKE County: Supervisors Endorse Airbnb Renovation Plan For Dilapidated Greendale Farmhouse”

  1. Marty Ellenbecker says:

    I love the sentiment. But if the framing is off hand-hewn
    timbers and is in bad shape, It’s faithful recreation
    may require some old guys to come out of retirement.
    Perhaps just to train and supervise.

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