(Feb. 2, 2012) - Northwest Minnesota Foundation Board Chair Gary Purath announced that the foundation has purchased the Wells Fargo building in Bemidji. “We are about to rehabilitate a historic downtown Bemidji building on the corner of Third and Beltrami Avenues and adapt it to meet the needs of our organization,” Purath said. Originally built as the Lumberman Bank, it is located in the heart of the city, two blocks from the lakefront and the Paul and Babe statues.
The Board of Directors agreed that change is necessary since the current office has been outgrown. Constructed in 1999, the space could be expanded, however, a redesign and remodel that matches the existing building is very costly and would not adapt well to current and future needs.
NMF President Nancy Vyskocil said they began looking for a space to build or existing structure to purchase more than two years ago. “After a long search and deliberative process involving the board and staff, we determined that the Wells Fargo building is our best option,” she said. “It has the space needed for our current office staff, for storage, for future expansion, and there is a spacious area with easy access in which to incorporate comfortable, efficient meeting and training rooms.
“Several regional architecture firms experienced with renovation projects were sent requests for proposals to do a feasibility study. The firm of Mutchler Bartram from Fargo, ND was selected. Based upon their findings, the decision was made to proceed,” Vyskocil said.
“Not only will we have the kind of office required to conduct business, we are adding vitality to downtown,” she said. “We are repurposing a historic, vacant structure. We are adding value for nonprofits and other partners in the area who are in need of a versatile, convenient meeting place. And most importantly, the new location will make NMF more visible and accessible to the entire region.”