This year’s Fourth of July celebration at Shell Rock coincided with an additional event: the grand opening of the city’s first Airbnb rental.
The July 3 open house included self-guided tours, food, and a Double J Wranglers concert. Michael Maholchic, owner of the property, was also on hand to answer questions.
Carter House, at 418 S. Walnut St., is a historic structure that has been completely renovated to welcome visitors to the community.
“Everything is new in this house,” said Bill Hardee, a Shell Rock electrician who served as the general contractor for the project. “Everything except the outer structure. We even removed the porch support posts and redid the entire porch.
Considering the house was built in 1866, by JS Carter, co-owner of the general store, it’s no surprise that renovations were needed.
“The house was completely paneled (inside),” Maholchic explained. “Very dark. Of course, when we tore out the paneling, we had to redo the walls. In a renovation, one thing leads to another.
Hardee agrees, using the kitchen ceiling as an example.
“In the kitchen alone, there were three different ceilings,” he said, falling under each other, each new covering the old. “So every time we thought we were getting ahead, we kept falling behind.”
Maholchic has experience renovating older homes for short term rentals. He’s been doing it for about four years now. He has several vacation rentals in Maryland and an extensive lodge and guesthouse in Wyoming, Star Valley Lodge.
But this is his first property in Iowa.
Maholchic is originally from Maryland, just south of Annapolis. He owns an engineering company, Facility Engineering Services, based in Maryland.
“We design and install control systems for HVAC,” he said. “Our markets are healthcare, data centers, and we do a lot of federal government work, anywhere critical temperature control is important.”
While the company’s main office is in Maryland, the company also has one in Omaha, Nebraska, and a small office in Afton, Wyoming near where Maholchic has his ranch.
“I have three different places that I call home,” he said. “I have property in Wyoming. I have properties in Annapolis. And where I currently live in Maryland is a town called West River. It’s a bit rural. »
Maholchic ended up in Shell Rock because he started riding horses about 10 years ago. About six years ago, he met Craig Johnson, an acclaimed Shell Rock rider who was living in Texas at the time, and began training with him.
“Then Craig moved here to take care of the family farm, and I came here with him,” Maholchic said. “In other words, I followed him here.”
For his training visits, Maholchic first stayed in a short-term rental in the town’s old mill, then in an apartment above the Riverview Café. But options were few and often unavailable, so he started looking for a local property to make his own.
“I had been looking for a property for a few years,” he says, “and this one came on the market about a year ago. It just fits the pattern of what I like to do. It’s sort of my second occupation, developing properties like this in unique areas.
He thinks that, in moderation, short-term rentals are good for a city.
“It’s beneficial to the community because it brings a level of tourism. If it’s overdone it can be a problem, but it brings people to the area.
Maholchic’s main goal with Carter House is to have somewhere he can stay when he’s at Shell Rock training, about a week a month.
“When I’m not staying here, I plan to rent it out as an Airbnb,” he said, noting that it will also be listed on VRBO. “I think I can offset my expenses and travel.”
“I already have two potential bookings, and it’s not even on Airbnb,” he said. “I think small towns are where people want to be.”
Not everyone is convinced.
“Some people said, ‘You’re wasting your time,’ and that motivates me,” he said with a laugh. “I think it will go very well. It’s my intuition.”
Given the reaction of visitors to the open house, Maholchic’s “gut feeling” is spot on.
Shell Rock resident Ann Juel said she would “absolutely” rent the place if she needed it.
“That’s so nice! They did a really good job,” she said.
Her husband, Bruce, also liked the renovation.
“Yeah, I really did,” he said. “It was really western. They did a hell of a job. The kitchen is huge compared to what it used to be. Everything is really nice. Open and beautiful.
Maholchic expects to list Carter House on rental sites in about a month. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom home will rent for $275 on Friday and Saturday nights and between $235 and $245 for other nights of the week.
“We have a Facebook page where all of our properties are listed in one place,” he said, under the name Star Valley Hospitality.
Although the renovation turned out to be an almost complete rebuild, Maholchic is glad he did.
“It’s been fun,” he said. “I like doing that kind of stuff. It challenges me mentally.