In 2007, Chuck and Kristen Hammel  took a leap in the dark. They gambled on a market for a new kind of city living — high-end loft apartments in the Strip District — and were part of the group that turned the decaying Armstrong Cork Company building into the Cork Factory Lofts. It couldn’t have gone much better: the 297 luxury rental units are all full and with a long waiting list for occupancy.

Seven years later, the Hammels are back with an even more ambitious project. They’re behind the townhome complex known as 2500 Smallman. When it’s completed, 2500 Smallman will offer some of the most spacious and luxurious urban living spaces Pittsburgh has ever seen.

“A lot of people who were renting there were asking for condos,” Kristen Hammel says. “Nothing was for sale. It was all for rent. I think people really want to live in the city again and it took a catalyst like the Cork Factory to make them want to commit to it.”

When they open in the summer of 2015, the 11 customizable townhomes at 2500 Smallman will offer configurations of 3,410 to 5,380 square feet, between three and five bedrooms, 150-square-foot private outdoor spaces, two- and three-car garages and a bevy of other amenities all in a grand structure which is designed to meet LEED Gold specifications.

“There are places that have all kinds of wonderful amenities, but there’s really nothing else like this,” Hammel says.

Each unit will also feature its own 150-square-foot balcony and 400 to 800-square foot courtyard, complete with a lounge area, an outdoor fireplace, a waterfall and a garden area.

Desmone & Associates Architects is designing the units and Guardian Construction is serving as the general contractor. The sale prices on smaller units will start around $1.2 million.

Realtor Darla Jobkar, who’s working with the Hammels to sell the units, says she expects a bulk of the interest to come from an older, more established crowd.

“We have professional empty nesters who no longer want the big house in suburbs and who would love living not just in the city but in the Strip District,” Jobkar says. “What’s intrigued me through this process is how people from other cities like Chicago and Philadelphia are watching our community and paying attention to what’s happening. If people are going to invest this money in what for a lot of them will be a second home, they’ve been hoping for something architecturally magnificent.”

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.