Hints of downtown development

Luigi Benigno, new owner of the buildings housing former Seven wine bar on Argyle, has big plans for his new digs.

Hotels, condos, apartments---it looks like something big may be sweeping into a lucrative little pocket of Halifax's downtown.

Luigi Benigno is the proud new owner of the building that houses Mosaic Lounge on Argyle Street and the former Seven Wine Bar on Grafton Street. Without divulging any concrete details, Benigno is hinting at some "big plans" for this city block.

After closing a real-estate deal with prominent restaurateurs Costa Elles and Chris Tzaneteas, Benigno now owns almost the entire city block between Argyle, Grafton, Blowers and Sackville Streets, with the exception of the Marriott Residence Inn.

There are no immediate plans to develop the block, but Benigno admits he has ideas for a "big project" that he hopes will foster a more lively downtown. As it is, "we don't have anything to offer in Halifax," he says. People are leaving the city in droves and "we have to change that," says Benigno.

In the meantime, it will be business as usual for bar-goers at Mosaic. Seven, however, closed its doors permanently last Saturday. Benigno bought the building, but the Seven restaurant brand was not part of the deal.

Another high-end restaurant is set to replace Seven in as early as a month, Benigno says. Together with former Seven owners Elles and Tzaneteas, Benigno is developing a fresh and secretive concept for the new haunt. Details on the latest venture should be made public in the next few weeks.

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