Calgary’s historic Lorraine Building has always been an eye-catcher with its dark-red, patterned brick exterior and white terra cotta detailing.
Located just outside the downtown core at 620 12th Ave. S.W., the Lorraine was completed as an apartment building in 1913 at the peak of the city’s pre-First World War construction boom. It shared an exclusive neighbourhood with the Ranchman’s Club and such notable Calgarians as Senator James Lougheed, Pat Burns, Isaac Kerr, William Roper Hull and Dr. Omer Patrick, who built the Lorraine.
After a near-disastrous fire in January 1998, the venerable structure sat empty for a while but has been beautifully restored as a commercial building.
Now, owner Heritage Property Corporation, known for breathing new life into historic Calgary buildings, is offering investors an opportunity to earn an impressive return on their money while helping to preserve the city’s past.
|The Lorraine Building boasts a gorgeous exterior, an equally eye-catching interior and a roster of first-rate tenants.|
With a $1.5-million share issue, the Lorraine Property Corporation is selling 300 preferred shares at $5,000 apiece. They offer a dividend of 10.8 per cent per annum, paid monthly.
Investors can get in on the project for $5,000 or any multiple of that amount.
Good liquidity is another benefit of the Lorraine Building investment. If shareholders wish to withdraw their cash investment, they can sell the shares back to the corporation at any time with 60 days’ notice.
The prospects look good for the Lorraine’s new life in the local economy. It’s home to a restaurant, a digital printing company, an interior designer, a finance company, an oil and gas company, an ad agency and various offices.
“It’s a beautiful building with a lot of character,” says Heritage Property Corporation president Neil J. Richardson. “It turned out well.”
Credit the skills and hard work of the trades and others who tackled the renovations of the Lorraine, which was officially declared a provincial historic resource in 2002. The fire had destroyed virtually all of the fourth floor and parts of the third. The lower floors were spared from the flames but were severely damaged by all the water used to put out the blaze.
Furthermore, the building sat for almost a year with no roof, exposed to the elements and anybody who felt like gate-crashing the neglected structure. During that sad, thankfully temporary, phase in the Lorraine’s 90-year life, Calgarians were reminded of history’s fragility with so many early structures long gone.
Richardson says it’s also fascinating to delve into the specific history of a project, a natural byproduct of getting this close to a building.
“The Lorraine was built by a founding member of the Calgary Zoo. When you start doing the research, you find out all these interesting stories about the zoo and how it was created.”
It also reminds us of downtown Calgary’s general shift, in the 20th century’s second decade, to brick following the city’s sandstone period. Architect James C. Teague deftly utilized brick’s potential for intricate ornamentation, to which he added geometrically fashioned terra cotta, a triangular parapet and a pressed-metal cornice.
On planning the Lorraine’s rebirth, Richardson took into account its original all-wood interior and, where possible, retained the old style. There was enough remaining of the main staircase – an elegant hardwood banister and railings – to provide the template for a replica.
The exterior, too, was reinforced and restored, with the addition of all-new windows and a new roof.
“It’s a good compromise,” Richardson says of the building. “You don’t want to create a museum. You want something where people can go about their daily business. It was originally designed to be lived in and worked in and have people coming and going, and that’s our goal.”
The renovations in fact have made the structure highly appealing, equipped with air conditioning, modern plumbing and wiring, and the infrastructure for 21st-century communications networks.
Heritage Property Corporation, which recently finished restoring the North-West Travellers Building (formerly the Salvation Army Building) and intends to restore the Lougheed Block, derives much pleasure from not only rescuing some of Calgary’s past but keeping it commercially vibrant.
“We enjoy it. I think it’s important for the city to preserve some of these buildings that might otherwise be lost.”
Besides getting an attractive dividend rate, investors in the Lorraine have the added satisfaction of helping with that valuable preservation.
“They can participate in this building and ultimately know that their money is going to be used by us on another project as well,” Richardson says.
For information on investing, call the Lorraine Property Corporation at 231-1687 or fax 262-9126.