Freeborn National Bank construction site back to market – Albert Lea Tribune

Freeborn National Bank construction site back to market - Albert Lea Tribune

Murray said during the pandemic, when all of the staff moved to working remotely, they found that a lot of their team moved to different communities or moved on from the company. When the company started hiring more people, they decided to continue allowing people to work from home, often from other communities.

Though they plan to possibly develop a smaller space downtown for employees in Albert Lea, most of the company’s employees will likely continue to work remotely in the future.

“We’re excited to be able to hand this off to the next person to hopefully do even more than when we got started with it,” Murray said of the building.

Murray said since its creation in 2017, Mortarr has grown to have over 1,400 companies showcasing on its platform, including some of the largest names in commercial construction and design, including Kohler, Sherwin Williams and Saint-Gobain, among others.

Story Highlights

  • Mortarr, an online inspiration gallery and networking platform developed exclusively for the commercial construction and design industry, was founded in 2017 by Albert Leans Steve Pulley, Abby Murray and Amy Petersen.

  • “We’re down to five people locally in Albert Lea,” she said out of the company’s 11 total employees. “Three of the five are co-founders, and we couldn’t justify keeping the building.”

Built in 1922, the Freeborn National Bank building at the corner of Broadway and William Street, was originally constructed as a bank on the first floor and medical and professional offices in the upper floors.

The city purchased the building in 1998 and in 2006 spent about $2 million to restore the exterior, including tuck-pointing, a new roof, a skylight and new water, sewer and electrical service to the buildings, among other improvements.

In 2018, the city approved the sale of the main and second floors of the building to Mortarr for $100,000, with the potential for the company to acquire more property in the future as it expands. The company has since transformed the first floor and mezzanine, while the second floor remains unfinished. It incorporated both old and new, re-plastering and resurfacing walls, but keeping the original architectural carvings in place. Some of the original flooring remains, along with exposed concrete elements.

The transformed space includes space for about 30 employees, including four-built in offices, conference rooms, lobby space and a lounge and conference room on the mezzanine.The building’s trademark feature, a large vault at the back, remains. Murray said the space, listed for $1,999,900, is a “turn-key solution” for someone wanting an office or mixed-use type of building. She said when they did the construction, they planned for growth upward, so all of the utilities, electrical, plumbing and HVAC are fitted for a company to develop into the upper floors. She also noted that Mortarr got through the historic preservation requirements, so the next person can come in and start development.

Though the space is just starting to get advertised, there has already been some interest from a few developers, she said. The company is working with both an Albert Lea Realtor and another out of Rochester. The city still owns the third and fourth floors.

She said she has appreciated the support Mortarr received from the city with their project and the support the community likewise has shown. She said there is some exciting news in the works for the company that will be released in the beginning of 2022. “I think the biggest benefit to our building is it can be mixed-use space,” she said. “The residential opportunity on the upper floors is really attractive.”