Future of the old Northwestern Bell building

Does anyone know who owns or what the plans are for the old Northwestern Bell building at 1804 E. First St.? I saw some scrappers loading out the junk that’s ended up in there over the years. They were the only ones on property but seemed pretty leisurely, like they belonged. Just curious if something is finally happening with it. I’ve dreamt of owning that building for years.

I believe it’s zoned residential and is going to stay that way, so hopefully the owner develops it into some beautiful high-ceilinged studios and doesn’t tear it down.


Paul Lundgren

about 9 years ago

David S. Bakke is listed as the owner of the Duluth Telephone Exchange building. It was built in 1921 and for many years was used by Bell Telephone. It played a significant role in the local music scene from 1993 to 1997, when it was known as the RecyclaBell. Bakke is listed as having purchased it in 2007 for $140,000.


about 9 years ago

The building changed hands numerous times in the early 2000s. A number of people wanted to convert it to apartments, but there is inadequate off-street parking. Unless someone wants to make it a single family house (or possibly a duplex), it is probably just going to continue to deteriorate and be used to store junk.

Chris Bollman

about 9 years ago

Thanks for that history Paul! I had no idea.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that there is a good reason the owner wanted to clean the junk out... We'll see.

Kelley Minor

about 9 years ago

So we tried to buy this building in 2006 and then again in 2008. The joint is CHALKED FULL of EPA documented asbestos. There's no "hire someone from the internet to cut it out and dispose" sitch going on here. The cost was reported to me, way back when, to be as much if not in excess of the purchase price. 

Furthermore, I was told by the city that if there was dual use (and with more probing, even single use - as a single home) it would need an integrated sprinkler system which, with the concrete walls and such was also a minor fortune! 

So sad because I dreamed of dining on the rooftop deck!

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