Blog Downtown Greater Council

Bell Bank Signs Lease Agreement for Historic Temple Opera Building

March 10, 2020

Fargo, N.D.-based Bell Bank has signed an agreement with Duluth builder/developer Titanium Partners to lease all three floors of Duluth’s historic Temple Opera Block building at 201 East Superior Street. Bell’s leaders anticipate opening a full-service bank in the building by late 2020, following the completion of major renovations.

Temple Opera Building in 1890, five years before a fire destroyed the top three floors.
Zenith City Press

“We are extremely excited to be part of the continued development and growth of Duluth’s economy and the revitalization of the historic downtown district,” added longtime Duluth banker Tim McShane, recently hired as president of Bell Bank for the Twin Ports market. “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.”

Originally built in 1889, the opera house burned down just five years later, and the Freemasons (who gave the building its name) moved to a different temple location. The Temple Opera building also once housed public reading rooms, which eventually became Duluth’s public library. For many years, the building was topped by a distinctive Moorish dome, but the tower and the top three floors were removed in 1942. Today, the building still retains its unique architectural features, with carved red sandstone and brownstone from the Amnicon River Quarries.

“I am thrilled to officially welcome Bell Bank to Duluth,” said Mayor Emily Larson. “Through historic levels of private sector investments across the city, Duluth is transforming and moving forward. We are excited to see what Bell’s future holds, as this is yet another sign of optimism for Duluth’s bright economic future.”

“Having a long-term commitment from a tenant like Bell Bank in the building is a great honor,” added Brian Forcier, president and CEO of Titanium Partners, a Duluth-based real estate investment and development firm that owns the Temple Opera Block. “We will begin extensive remodeling to the building immediately, while seeking to preserve its classic nature.”

Headquartered in Fargo, N.D., and chartered in 1966, Bell Bank is the nation’s tenth largest privately held bank. Bell has banking and mortgage locations in west central Minnesota and the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area and recently hired McShane and a team of experienced banking professionals who will build Bell’s footprint in the Twin Ports market.

Bell’s facilities team has experience working with historic spaces. In 2014, Bell moved its downtown Fargo banking location and wealth management division to a renovated historic building on Broadway, Fargo’s main downtown thoroughfare. Bell also has a long history of philanthropy, arts and community support, with major sponsorships with the historic Fargo Theatre and the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis and a unique Pay It Forward initiative that has empowered more than $15 million in employee giving.