A rendering of the Refinery courtesy of Indovina Associates Architects.

The former Pitt Chemical & Sanitary Supply Co. site in the Strip District is getting new life this spring, as construction work transforms it into the 30-unit Refinery condo complex. But this adaptive reuse project will offer amenities and design choices that preserve and capitalize on the building’s history rather than replacing it.

Along with using original exterior bricks and keeping high ceilings, interior columns and large, multi-pane windows, the building will include a top-floor resident’s lounge complete with a wall-sized reproduction of Pitt Chemical’s iconic signage and sketch of William Penn.

“We decided to eliminate a penthouse from the top floor in favor of creating a dynamic resident lounge, oversized gym and outdoor terrace with grilling and fire pit stations for residents to enjoy — all with unparalleled views of the Pittsburgh skyline,” says Ethan Gabany, manager of development and investment analysis for Hardy World, LLC.

The project, which merges the Pitt Chemical building at 2545 Penn Avenue with an adjacent warehouse, is a collaboration between Hardy World, LLC (launched last year by 84 Lumber Company and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort founder Joe Hardy) and Indovina Associates Architects, who are creating a contemporary design.

The plans include transforming a second floor originally designed as a single condo to six units and filling in four additional levels of new residences, with the communal penthouse level tying the two buildings together as one.

To meet the city’s parking requirements, the warehouse will require significant reconfiguration on the ground floor and lower level, where 28 parking spaces will be designated for residents.

The goal is completion within 12 to 14 months.

Gabany is excited about the opportunity and the challenge of this creative reuse project.

“When you have an existing structure, the building defines the parameters you have to work with — columns, exposed brick, concrete ceilings,” says Gabany. “We’ve also infused subtle design elements to memorialize the building’s history, including digitally preserving the advertisement painted on the side of the building.”

“Even the name — The Refinery,” he says, “pays homage to the site’s industrial past.”

An advertisement for Pitt Chemical & Sanitary Supply Co. will be digitally reproduced in The Refinery’s resident lounge. Image courtesy of Hardy World, LLC.
An advertisement for Pitt Chemical & Sanitary Supply Co. will be digitally reproduced in The Refinery’s resident lounge. Image courtesy of Hardy World, LLC.

Including exterior living spaces, the one- and two-bedroom condos range from 935 to 3,020 square feet and start at $371,000 for the smallest units. Larger units are priced from $485,000 to $1.2 million.

Gabany says some features were inspired by luxury hotels. As a nod to the spa suites at the Hotel Monaco Downtown, the master bathroom in each unit will feature an oversized “wet room” with a freestanding bathtub and separate shower area, and each condo will include a powder room in addition to one or two full baths.

Upgrades, he says, include “a remote-controlled Toto toilet, popular in Asian hotels, that offers a heated seat, integrated bidet and dryer. It’s amazing!”

According to Kathy Wallace, founder of the New City Marketing team at Keller Williams Realty, adapting an existing building to meet current living standards “takes creativity, tenacity, patience and commitment.”

Wallace believes the units — which were just listed in mid-March — will sell quickly.

“The Strip District has been a destination for many, many decades,” says Wallace, noting that shifts like the desire to avoid a long suburban commute and the growth of interest in biking to work have made neighborhoods like the Strip and Downtown more appealing than ever.

“People want to live urban: It’s walkable, a short commute. There’s an energy and a vibe that is very attractive about city living,” she says. “Condos put feet on the street 24-7 and increase the number of stakeholders. The more people you have living in a neighborhood, the more vibrant it is.”

Emily fell in love with the written word as a teenager, when she published zines and wrote for her school paper. Today, she is a freelance writer with a decade and a half of experience in non-profit communications. She enjoys cooking, reading, crafting and exploring Pittsburgh with her husband and two sons.