Cream City Hostel, 500 E. Center St., opened in the summer of 2019, and will soon transform into the first cooperative housing for Milwaukee residents thanks to a $450,000 program-related investment loan (PRI) from Bader Philanthropies, Inc.
Cream City Hostel was not yet through its first year of operations when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and it was forced to close its doors. The shift to cooperative housing will begin in January 2021, with hopes to introduce it to the neighborhood in the spring or summer of 2021.
RiverBee LLC, the building’s ownership group of more than 40 Milwaukee investors, hopes to provide housing for at least 12 residents. This model could be replicated in other communities. The cooperative tenant housing model offers an intentional living community that helps support people dealing with losses and uncertainty such as jobs, instability and landlord challenges. It’s also particularly well-suited for the COVID-19 pandemic realities by creating a safe “pod” of known residents.
“The beauty of this pivot is that the project will stay true to our original vision of this work, which was to collectively empower the community, ourselves and each other to make our lives and neighborhoods better,” says Juli Kaufmann, social entrepreneur, managing member of RiverBee LLC and president of Fix Development. “We are proud to continue to create a safe and diverse place to bring the community together.”
Kaufmann led the $1 million redevelopment Cream City Hostel project, partnering with Riverwest residents Wendy Mesich and Carolyn Weber. Additionally, more than 40 community members, most of them from the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods, became direct investors in the building, using a crowdfunding ownership model. Kaufmann’s business model is to use real estate as a tool for social change and is the only real estate model of its kind in Milwaukee. Her work focuses on creating small businesses and local jobs using community-based funding options.
“We’re glad to partner with Bader Philanthropies because they’re a community partner that’s mission-aligned,” said Kaufmann. “We wanted to pivot thoughtfully, in the same vein as the hostel was designed for the neighborhood – to be the highest and best use for the community. This model will fill a need for low-income residents.”
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.