An artist's rendering of the planned Lougheed Building restoration. ((Heritage Property Corp.))

A Calgary company looking for a unique way to preserve historic sites is selling investors the chance to be part owner of a restored building for as little as $500.

The first building on offer by the Heritage Property Corp. is the 1912 Lougheed Building in Calgary's downtown core.

The company's owner, Neil Richardson, said he has financed half the cost of restoring the building, including refurbishing the woodwork, the marble walls and even the bathroom stalls.

He is now inviting others to invest as little as $500 each to pay for the other half.

"You've helped save it sort of by buying a brick, so to speak," he said.

People often applaud his work and say they want to get involved, but don't have the money, Richardson said.

"The group that might have $500 or $1,000 or $2,000 can't really get into the real estate game as an investor because the dollars aren't big enough. So we offer an opportunity for the smaller investor as well."


The Lougheed Building, circa 1913, was home to the Sherman Grand Theatre, Rathskellar Restaurant, Doherty Piano, and Phil W. McCrystal tailor. ((Glenbow Museum Archives))

Richardson said the building has been deemed a heritage site by both the city and the province.

"You can invest in real estate that's saving heritage, you can invest in real estate that isn't. Quite often we get a little too focused on the economic dollars and cents –  [the] immediate return – versus some of the long term social returns that have economic value, but maybe aren't easily measured."

The Lougheed Building's conservation architect, Lorne Simpson, said Calgary has already lost too many of its heritage structures.

"We have lots of vanilla buildings," Simpson said, whereas the Loughheed Building has "got history. It's part of Calgary and it's got character"

Richardson said if the venture proves successful, he plans to continue inviting people to get involved in restoration projects in the future.