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Duke Photography has been sold and is moving: Here is what we know

Duke Photography Sign
Posted at 11:22 AM, May 17, 2021

PHOENIX — Duke Photography -- a photography business that has been part of the Valley for 50 years -- has been sold to new owners and will be moved to the historic First Federal Bank in Phoenix.

Darrell Duke, whose father opened Duke Photography in the 1950s, confirmed to ABC15 in a text message last week that he sold the business to Aaron Klusman, a partner at Camelback Partners, a private investment group that bought the so-called Duke Photography building earlier this year, and Eric and Darcy Carter, who've reportedly worked downtown for years.

Duke and his family will remain "consultant partners" at Duke Photography, according to a news release that announced the sale and move.

“Duke Photography has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember but I’m really excited for this transition,” Duke said in a statement. “We are moving the business just a short distance from here and will be able to continue saving memories by creating beautiful portraits for our community."

Inside the First Federal Bank building, "Duke 2.0" as it's been called, will become a hybrid photography studio, walk-up coffee shop, and cafe serving bagels. It will be located on Central Avenue, near Oregon Avenue, and next to Federal Pizza.

Related: Razed for Raising Cane's: What's happening with Duke Photography?

Duke Photography has made headlines in recent weeks after some neighbors learned that the Duke Photography building had been sold with plans for it to be demolished and replaced with Raising Cane's.

Raising Cane's has requested a zoning adjustment hearing with the City of Phoenix to build a restaurant, outdoor patio, and drive-thru there.

ABC15 reached out to Raising Cane's for comment on its development plans but did not receive a response.

Duke sold the building to Klusman for $2 million earlier this year and planned to relocate the business, anyway, Duke previously told ABC15.

Some neighbors and neighborhoods want to see the building preserved and possibly repurposed. Others have expressed concern about the traffic that Raising Cane's could bring to the area.

"The move was necessary due to the current state of the Duke building," said Klusman in a statement. "When the site was initially purchased, I had a few different ideas, but, ultimately, the building was determined to be structurally unsound. This gave us a cool opportunity to move everything to a more central location while repositioning the brand in a well-known historic building where it can be preserved and flourish for the next generation to enjoy."

Klusman said the iconic Duke Photography sign would be moved to the new location.

Last fall, a demolition permit was filed with City of Phoenix's Historic Preservation Office and ultimately approved after the mandatory 30-day hold.

The building itself, which was built in the 1940s, was found to be eligible for historic preservation, however, no one initiated that process and the demolition permit was ultimately issued, according to Historic Preservation Officer Michelle Dodd.