Duluth’s branch of Bell Bank has plans to renovate and move into the downtown Temple Opera Building.
The Fargo-based bank is in its first months of operation in Duluth, and its move will bring renovations to the historic 221 E. Superior St. building. The space will likely open by late 2020, according to a news release from the bank.
Bell is the nation’s 10th largest privately held bank. Its branch will be the only occupant of the building.
"We certainly see a bright future in the Twin Ports, and our lease of the Temple Opera Block space shows Bell’s long-term commitment to business and to the community," Tim McShane, Bell’s president of the Twin Ports market, wrote in an email.
Duluth-based Titanium Partners owns the building and will lead the extensive renovation, which includes a full interior remodel to meet staff and customer needs. There are also plans to clean up the building’s exterior with new windows and signage, according to McShane
"The inside of the building, they're going to redo for their needs as part of a long-term deal. They'll be an anchor tenant in the HART (Historic Arts and Theatre) District," Brian Forcier, president and CEO of Titanium, said in an interview. "It's a win for everybody."
He expects work to start as soon as the necessary permits are obtained, Forcier said.
Built in 1889 by Duluth's masons, the building initially housed a banquet hall, ballroom, Masonic lodge, offices, public library and retail storefront, according to Zenith City Press.
Its distinctive Moorish dome and the top three floors were removed in 1942. The building’s lower three floors and many of its unique architecture features still make up the building, the news release reads.
Bell open its first Duluth location and hired a team of local bankers late last year. It will continue operating at 230 W. Superior St. until the Temple Opera building is complete.
“Being fully committed to the Twin Ports market and recognizing the value of preserving our city’s historic buildings, we determined that the Temple Opera building met our needs and desires for our permanent home and helps illustrate our long-term commitment to Duluth and the surrounding areas,” McShane wrote.
The bank initially had plans to stay in the Superior Street office and build it out. But the Temple Opera building met the bank's needs and wants for a permanent location, according to McShane.
"The building’s historic character and architecture, its proximity to current and future development, and being situated on a corner with skywalk access were all appealing factors that contributed to our decision," he wrote.
The bank will offer retail, private and business banking, as well as mortgage lending. As the bank gains market traction, McShane said potential for growth.
The Duluth location joins others across Minnesota, as well as in Fargo and Chandler, Arizona. Bell owns more than $6 billion in assets.