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Nova Place To Offer Free Wi-Fi And ‘Innovation Pods’ To North Side Communities

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The North Side's Nova Place will be outfitted for free public Wi-Fi with the help of more than $8 million in grants.

The developer of the North Side's Nova Place announced Tuesday it will outfit the building with high speed internet available to the community for free.  

The five-year $8.8 million investment will turn portions of the former Allegheny Center Mall into a community technology hub.

Developer Faros Properties, which renovated the building, said it would include “innovation pods” where local groups can meet.

Comcast will provide $1.3 million in cash and services including free one-gigabit-per-second wired and wireless connection.

“People from the neighborhoods who want to get together and discus something, they can sit at one of the innovation pods, which is kind of semi-private,” said Comcast spokesman Bob Grove. “They can just plug in and discus their ideas or do whatever work they’re doing.”

Free Wi-Fi will also be available throughout the building’s indoor and outdoor public areas. Grove said the effort is part of a larger issue focused on helping North Side neighborhoods succeed. He said giving neighborhood groups, entrepreneurs, innovators and makers access to robust internet for free could be part of the solution.

Those public elements and the potential for “inclusive innovation” and entrepreneurship attracted the Buhl Foundation. It added $6.5 million to the project as part of its One Northside initiative, which aims to to improve 18 neighborhoods through a wide variety of projects ranging from arts and recreation to business support and combating blight.

Foundation President Diana Bucco said the agreement is the “next step in the evolution of One Northside.”

Urban Innovation21 is also involved in the effort.

Nova Place is home to several small businesses and Alloy 26, which at 50,000 square feet is the city’s largest co-working space.