For years, developer Bart Blatstein has been talking about achieving critical mass at his mixed-use development at the former Schmidt's site in Northern Liberties, which stretches from Girard Avenue south for several blocks along Second Street and Hancock Street.

From 2001, he set to work building the apartment/retail complex called Liberties Walk and over the years renovated former industrial buildings into apartments/offices.

The "meat" of the project is almost finished. That's a series of four apartment buildings, with ground-floor retail, bounded on three sides by Second Street, Germantown Avenue and Hancock Street. The interior courtyard, which he calls the Piazza, now sports a concert stage topped by 26-foot-by-16-foot HD LED screen (16mm resolution).

The Piazza project will include four food operations, all of which will open onto the Piazza.

  • One, which Drew Lazor described last week in Mealticket, will be a diner called Darling's from the people behind Darling's Cheesecakes. It will go in the egg-shaped building clevely dubbed "The Egg," across Second Street from Bar Ferdinand and El Camino Real at Second and Germantown.

  • There will be a pub at the southern end of the building on Second Street, and a lounge in the building on the Hancock and Germantown side; deals are not 100 percent final there.

  • The fourth will be Vino Restaurant Lounge, coming to the northern end of the building along Second Street, across from Bar Ferdinand. Vino's owner, Michael Maglio, tells me that it will be a wine bar and lounge, "but not the kind of lounge that you only go to late at night. It'll be a comfortable atmosphere." The menu, from chef Glenn Albright, will focus on "aperitivo"-style small plates, $8 to $13, with pizzas and bread from a brick oven. He's shooting for early May.

As for the Girard Avenue end of the project, Blatstein says he is close to a deal with a supermarket.