A Calgary enterpreneur is passing up some lucrative returns to not only renovate an historic building but also help women escaping abusive relationships.

Kris Nordal, who owns the Findlay apartment building in the Beltline, says he is looking forward to seeing it turned into social housing for single women.

"There's no facilities for women fleeing domestic violence who don't have children," Nordal says. "This building is really focused on providing a community and housing for these women."

The brick and sandstone building — built by druggist James Findlay in 1909 — will be legally protected next month as a heritage structure, which means the restorations must respect its historic character.

The $900,000 renovation is being paid for by the province.

In exchange, Nordal will keep the building as low-cost social housing rentals for 20 years.

While he could make a lot of money turning it into high-end units, the true value of a building can't always be measured in money, Nordal says.

"Why does social housing have to be ugly? I don't think it has to."