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South Side's Whiskey Barrel Flats condos mix modern, rugged styles

| Saturday, April 19, 2014, 7:10 p.m.
Terence Oden, senior architect with Desmone & Associates Architects, gestures to what will be an indoor garage space for Whiskey Barrel Flat Condominiums as he talks about the restoration of the former whiskey distillery in South Side on Monday, April 7, 2014.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Terence Oden, senior architect with Desmone & Associates Architects, gestures to what will be an indoor garage space for Whiskey Barrel Flat Condominiums as he talks about the restoration of the former whiskey distillery in South Side on Monday, April 7, 2014.
Terence Oden, senior architect with Desmone & Associates Architects, gestures to what will be an indoor garage space for Whiskey Barrel Flat Condominiums as he talks about the restoration of the former whiskey distillery in South Side on Monday, April 7, 2014.
Stephanie Strasburg | Tribune-Review
Terence Oden, senior architect with Desmone & Associates Architects, gestures to what will be an indoor garage space for Whiskey Barrel Flat Condominiums as he talks about the restoration of the former whiskey distillery in South Side on Monday, April 7, 2014.

Bill Stolze knows buyers of slick, urban condos might not be looking for the rugged brick, heavy beams and thick wooden floors of a whiskey company founded in 1873.

But he believes he is going to offer those buyers a distinct reason to move.

“It's more of a lifestyle than just a place to live,” said the managing partner of Wilsto Enterprises in Moon.

Terence Oden, an architect at Desmone Associates Architects in Lawrenceville, said he knows there is a great deal of work to be done to the building, but he believes there's a great deal to be gained from the challenge.

“It's a tank of a building,” he said, patting one of the walls, which he said are three- to four-bricks thick.

The two are talking about a three-story structure in the shadow of the Liberty Bridge in the South Side. The building was the headquarters of the Joseph S. Finch & Co. distillery but these days bears the name of the Standard-Machine Supply Co.

It will become Whiskey Barrel Flats, home to at least 10 condos.

Work is expected to begin by fall, Stolze said, and the first residents could be in nine to 12 months later.

He expects his $4.5 million project to develop condos ranging in price from $400,000 to $1.25 million. He purchased the building for $495,000.

Stolze and Oden say there could as many as 13 condos at the site.

“We are trying to be as custom in design as possible,” Stolze said.

He said he is trying to make Whiskey Barrel Flats as individual as possible by adding elements sometimes missing from other condo developments. There will be indoor parking for at least one vehicle per unit connected to the back of the building, as well as parking spaces outside.

That garage will include an indoor bicycle rack because right outside is a trail that connects to the Great Allegheny Passage at SouthSide Works.

Another unusual item, Stolze said, will be a bar in the back of the first level. Open only to residents, the bar will have storage units for the condo dwellers favorite liquors. Stolze anticipates a bar-keeper being paid through a homeowners' association fees.

Adjacent to that space will be a glass-enclosed cigar and humidor area.

“Imagine coming home from a hard day's work and being able to relax a bit right in your own building,” Stolze said.

The first floor will have only two units. Oden envisions three units on each of the next two floors, and two penthouse units.

But, he and Stolze said, all of that will be determined by the clients.

“I can see someone deciding he wants the whole rooftop area,” Stolze said.

They expect the condos to range from 900 to 2,300 square feet of space.

“There will be some places where kitchens and bathrooms will be located because of pipes and vents and things, but we will be allowing a lot of wall-moving,” Oden said.

The design of the units will be modern but will include bricks and beams in the building.

Oden has been researching fonts and accessory styles of the Finch distillery and the Schenley Distillery that took it over to find appropriate decorative looks.

Some aspects of the building will stay the same for that reason, he said. For example, the main entrance will move to Second Street, but a doorway on McKean Street will be cleaned and kept because of its solid, arched appearance.

The penthouses will be modern, glass-and-steel structures and will be topped by a pavilion for common use.

Stolze said he heard about the building in fall 2012. He said he recognized its potential and closed on the building on the last day of that year.

One of the biggest changes to the building will be the removal of some floors.

In its distillery days, the ceilings above the first floor were 7 feet high, leading to four levels of keg-storage area.

To make condo space with 14-foot-high ceilings, two of those floors will be removed.

It all seems part of the whiskey heritage that will shape the place. That legacy struck Stolze immediately.

“I was walking around just after I bought it and said, ‘Let's call it Whiskey Barrel Flats,' ” he said.

Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7852 or bkarlovits@tribweb.com.

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