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The short-term rental market is booming in Titletown

STRs/Offering accommodation options

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September 8, 2022

GREEN BAY – Short-term rentals (STRs) have become increasingly popular in recent years, with the entire budding industry seeing substantial growth nationwide – and Green Bay is no exception, especially around historic Lambeau Field – the home of the Green Bay Packers.

Brad Toll, CEO of Discover Green Bay, said Brown County’s Air DNA data showed the city holds 715 STR options, which doesn’t include hotels, and out of them, 66.7% were booked for July, with an average daily rate of $344 a night.

“715 rooms – that’s by far the largest hotel in Green Bay – if you were to think of it as a hotel, so it definitely affects our occupancy,” he said. “A number of people want to travel to destinations and do things more like a local. (You can’t get) more local than staying in someone’s house.”

Since running a short-term rental is considered a business, Toll said those looking to offer their home to renters must receive a license and go through an inspection through the county.

Vacation rental owners also must charge a county and state sales tax, as well as a room tax.

“We’re using the room tax to pay for the bonds on the Resch Center, the KI Convention Center and eventually the Expo Center,” Toll said. “So visitors are literally paying for those buildings for us to have in our community, which is awesome. That’s the power of the tourism industry.”

The increase in STRs has helped to offer more accommodations for people when visiting – especially on game days – which Toll said translates into more money spent with the businesses around Lambeau Field and beyond.

“On game days, our hotel occupancy climbs to the 97-98 percentile, so our hotels are pretty much full,” he said. “A lot of times, that’s when STRs are available. If people weren’t able to stay here, they would end up going somewhere else. (STRs) keep them in our community because they have more options.”

Initial competition
When more and more vacation rentals began to pop up in the Green Bay area, Toll said hotels initially looked at them as competition.

Now, he said they’re more acclimated to it.

Toll said there are still people who’d rather stay in hotels.

Lombardi Farmhouse’s name plays off the name of the late former coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi. Submitted Photo

“It’s just a part of the tourism industry now, and it’s not going away,” he said. “We have more people staying in our communities than we would have before.”

Aaron Popkey, director of public affairs for the Green Bay Packers, said it’s great to see the variety of lodging available for Packers’ fans and those in the community.

“We are pleased to be able to welcome visitors from all over the state, country and world, and for them to have choices and accommodations,” he said. “We have a hotel within Titletown, Lodge Kohler, that is among the best – if not the best – in the area. The other choices beyond that I would say are great options as well.”

The City of Green Bay, Popkey said, has recently been a finalist for the National Football League (NFL) draft – an event that rotates to different cities around the country.

To host an event that large, he said “accommodations are crucial.”

“Additional hotels have come up in recent years that are helpful to that, as well as Airbnb, Vrbo – those accommodations are also helpful to that,” he said. “As the area looks to host more events, (STRs) are an overall piece of the effort.”
Popkey said when people come to visit the area, “options for them to stay is a plus.”

Giving it a go
Heidi and Lance Ubben recently opened a vacation rental – Treasures in Titletown – in the shadows of Lambeau Field.

Originally from South Dakota, Heidi said the two are always looking for their next project, and since Lance, a diehard Packers fan, would eventually like to grow his real estate team to Green Bay, she said they decided to try out an Airbnb in the area.
Heidi said Treasure in Titletown’s atmosphere is a mixture of “half cute stuff and half Packers stuff,” which Heidi said is one of the things that sets their rental home apart from a hotel.

“In a hotel, you get one room with one or two beds,” she said. “Being able to have separate rooms is a huge thing. Our rental has a huge fenced-in yard, a private hot tub and an arcade room in the basement. It’s a lot of extra space than the typical hotel.”

Heidi said initial reactions from neighbors were not what they expected, but have warmed up since.

At the end of the day, Heidi said she and Lance want Treasure in Titletown to be “a great atmosphere for a family to go to, or even a group of adults.”

Not all positives
The reaction the Ubbens received from neighbors aren’t only ones who have voiced concerns over more STRs entering family residences.

Aaron Schuette, the community development director for the Village of Ashwaubenon, said the increase in STRs have been more of a hindrance to the village than a benefit.

Many of the houses near Lambeau, Schuette said, make great affordable starter homes for those looking to move to Ashwaubenon – however, many of those properties are now being used solely as STRs.

Aaron Schuette

“We have a real shortage of affordable housing in not just the Green Bay area, but the entire nation at this point,” he said. “What we’re seeing happening is a lot of people who don’t live here, they’re buying these houses at a premium, renovating them and then using them exclusively for short-term rentals.”

Not only does he see the inflation of STRs in the area cutting into the affordable housing stock, Schuette said the rentals have caused an increase in property value for the surrounding area.

“They renovate these houses and put a lot of money into them, and are often basically using them as a business,” he said. “We see the increase in property value, which means higher taxes for not only that property, but the area in general. It starts to drive up the costs of housing for existing residents who live in these homes.”

The increase in short-term rentals has also caused concern for Ashwaubenon’s School District, Schuette said, as the homes within the village are great “for families who may have kids that want to enter the district,” but are now no longer available.

Schuette said the village recognizes there should be a place for short-term rentals right up against Lambeau Field, but from the municipal standpoint, the increase in the stays and decrease in housing for the community has not been a benefit.

A community investment 
Cheesehead Rentals LLC said its vacation rental, Lombardi Farmhouse, is an investment in travelers and those in the community.

“More and more people are looking to stay at vacation home properties versus hotels, so we knew it would be a great investment – especially in the Green Bay area, where there is no shortage of events year round,” the owners, Lindsey and Mike Ruzek, Eric Wall and Dana Schmidt, said. “We want to create a personable and engaging culture for our guests. We love interacting with our guests as much or as little as they’d like, and we want them to know we are a resource for them before, during and after their stay.”

The group said they’ve had a wide variety of guests – from families, business people, bridal parties and even a U.S. Olympic Skier.

Powerhouse Properties 920, a STR management company, said it has also benefited from the boom in short-term lodging in Green Bay.

Mark Danen, an Airbnb-verified superhost and partner of the company, said he manages 15 different properties in the Green Bay/ De Pere area.

Danen said he and the company’s founder, Mark Biesack, help their clients locate and purchase a property, rehab a property if needed, furnish, decorate the home and more.

“Investors are trusting us to help them realize the most revenue possible for their property,” he said. “A lot of people don’t have the skill set or time to adequately manage a property and get the results they’re looking for. This is all our business does.”

While football season is a prime time for STRs, Danen said the management company uses different tactics and operation systems to make sure properties are being rented year round.

He said Powerhouse Properties 920 manages all communications with guests, and their feedback on the rentals are “overwhelmingly and incredibly positive.”

Danen said the company focuses on making great first impressions – and not just with the guests.

“We focus on trying to make good relations with the neighbors,” he said. “We do everything right. We make sure everything is permitted… We follow all the state, local and municipal ordinances. We have strong rules for all our guests they need to abide by.”

As the company continues to manage properties throughout Green Bay and the Fox Valley, Danen said he expects the SRT market to continue growing.

“For the last decade or so, the (STR) space has exploded,” he said. “I don’t see any signs of that stopping or slowing down.”

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