LETHBRIDGE – The Oliver Building on 5 Street South isn’t a designated historical building, but it is rich with local Lethbridge history.
Hunter Heggie is a local businessman and says the building is where he got his start with second-hand store “King of Trade”.
“I’ve been interested in the property for many years–the King of Trade used to be in this building–and I worked here as a teenager before I bought it, so I know this building first hand.”
King of Trade has moved to a few different locations over the years, and now sits across the street from its original location.
The Oliver property was privately owned but was surrendered to the city in 2014. It sat vacant for several years before the city took over. Now, the century-old building is being sold through a bidding process.
“It’s fallen into disrepair, so after we took possession of it, we decided to embark on two reports. One was a hazardous materials report to understand what was in the building, and the other one was a structural report,” Michael Kelly, manager of real estate and land development with the City of Lethbridge, said.
Kelly says those reports showed the two-story wood-framed building was beyond salvaging.
“There are some concerns that were identified by the consultants from both the hazardous material as well as a structural point of view, but we have included that in the package for perspective buyers so they are fully aware.”
Click to view the report and photos
Last July, the city issued a request for proposals to purchase the Oliver Building, but Kelly says it was unsuccessful.
Heggie and his business partner, Brian Vandenberg, submitted one of those proposals, and made it clear they wanted to buy the building, no matter its state. But Heggie feels they’ve been stonewalled.
“We’ve made them four offers, and none of them have been accepted, and so now it’s going back to tender. Here we are, we want to buy it.”
Vandenberg says they are still very interested in the building and would like to see two local businessmen save the structure. He says the proposal process was not made clear by the city.
“In our last offer it was submitted as a final offer, we were completely unaware of that, and would have been happy to do a little negotiating,” he said. “That didn’t occur, and now we go to another process, and that frustrates us.”
The pair has renovated two older buildings in the past, including the old Alberta Meat Market building at the end of 5 Street South, and can see the potential in the Oliver building.
“We want to rebuild it, we want it to be vibrant, we want 5 Street to be awesome,” Heggie said. “This side of the street [west] is not the greatest at the moment. Some of the buildings have been restored and this is the eyesore in the middle of the street, and we want to fix it–put our money where our mouth is.”
The bidding process is underway, and the city says an application for rezoning has been brought forward to make it Direct Control, opening up the location to more possibilities. The city’s website says Direct Control zones are “used to manage special, one-of-a-kind land use situations” and such zones have “unique characteristics and have regulations created for the circumstances.” Click here to view the bidding package.