Bell plans complete renovation; existing historic site will be on market
A regional bank, with strong ties to the greater Pelican Rapids lakes area, is making a downtown move—about 100 paces south of its present location.
State Bankshares, the holding company for Bell Bank, has entered into an agreement to purchase the Wells Fargo bank building at 11 South Broadway in Pelican Rapids.
Word that Wells Fargo’s intent to close its Pelican Rapids operation launched months of rumors—all of them hinting at Bell buying the Wells Fargo site.
The rumors became fact last week.
Bell’s current location is in a classic, historic brick building. Though rich in charm and small town aesthetics, the present Bell Bank is a quaint remnant of the past; without drive-through service and a tiny—but cozy—lobby.
Bell Bank chairman Richard Solberg, who has a home near Pelican Rapids and longtime family ties to the community, said he is excited about the potential to expand Bell’s services to customers from Pelican Rapids and the surrounding area.
Bell opened a loan office at 15 North Broadway in Pelican Rapids in 2002, and the location has been a full-service bank since 2004.
Solberg and his family have been part of the Pelican Rapids community for more than 50 years. Solberg’s sister, Faye Siegle, and her husband, Al, taught and coached in Pelican Rapids for decades. Al passed away in 2015; Faye still resides in Pelican Rapids.
“Faye and our families share a loyalty to this community,” Solberg said. “Bell Bank is very committed to Pelican Rapids and the surrounding lakes area.”
Solberg’s son, Michael, is president and chief executive officer of Bell, one of the nation’s largest independently owned banks. He shares the family’s longstanding connections to the Pelican lakes country, and is a seasonal resident in the Pelican area.
Solberg said Bell Bank plans to extensively remodel the 15,000-square-foot Wells Fargo building (built in 1971), which also features drive-up service, and reopen it later this year.
Bell Bank’s current branch remains open at 15 Broadway but will be sold once the remodeled building reopens. Solberg said that Bell is anxious to sell the existing building, to maintain another storefront in downtown Pelican Rapids.
Pelican Rapids native Diane Hanson is vice president/branch manager of Bell’s Pelican Rapids location, and leads a team that will be expanding with the move.
“Pelican Rapids and lakes area residents enjoy living here – and often work in different communities,” added Solberg. “An advantage our customers have is that, in addition to Bell Bank in Pelican Rapids, they can do their banking in Fergus Falls, Detroit Lakes and Hawley, plus branches in the Fargo-Moorhead area.”