whiskey barrel flats
Construction will start on the Whiskey Barrel Flats this fall.

For a time, the building at the corner of South Second and McKean Streets on the South Side was home to the Jos. S. Finch & Co. distillery, which made whiskey in Pittsburgh from 1873 to 1918. And while Bill Stolze isn’t entirely sure of the exact date on the building, the architecture provides some clues.

“It’s built like a tank,” he says. “The walls are three- and four-bricks thick, and some of the timbers are about a foot in diameter. It’s probably nigh on 130 years old.”

Stolze, the managing partner of Moon Township’s Wilsto Enterprises, is working with Desmone & Associates Architects and Sota Construction to turn the riverside relic into the Whiskey Barrel Flats, a long-awaited new condominium complex which he touts as a building with its own lifestyle.

“Anybody could throw in a few treadmills,” he says. “We thought, ‘let’s do something different that nobody’s ever done before.”

Accordingly, the Whiskey Barrel Flats will maintain the antique industrial feel of the building’s infrastructure while offering residents uncommonly luxurious amenities. The complex will have a private bar with residential liquor cabinets, a walk-in humidor and cigar lounge, and a shared roof deck with its own outdoor kitchen and meeting space for residents who wish to conduct business without leaving home. Each unit will also have its own outdoor balcony space.

Prospective buyers may begin making deposits during a private preview event on Thursday at Butcher and the Rye. Smaller units will be priced at $400,000 with penthouse units costing up to $1.25 million.

“The way we looked at it, it doesn’t appear that anybody’s really geared living space around the lifestyle,” Stolze says. “I envision professionals who work in the city and who want to live a city lifestyle, and if they don’t want to go out in the hustle-bustle, they can have friends over to enjoy the space.”

Once builders have added fifth story and a parking garage to the building, the Whiskey Barrel Flats will occupy about 34,500 square feet and house 10 to 13 for-sale units. That number is still up in the air, as Stolze says he anticipates some buyers may wish to combine spaces. The project is budgeted at about $5 million.

Stolze says he would like to start construction this fall, and that the first units should be ready nine months to a year after.

Matthew Wein is a local writer, editor, blogger, storyteller and proud native Pittsburgher. Once described as "a man of things," he covers city design, spirits and craft beer for NEXT, where he keeps all of the editorial meetings light-hearted and interesting. His interests include sorting books, looking at old things and candles which smell like old-growth pine forests.