Nova Place, formerly Allegheny Center, is shaping up to be a model of how a former mall can be reinvented.
Amidst a backdrop of nine “innovation pods,” four groups gathered today to announce the next step for Nova Place and ONE Northside, a long-term community initiative.
Faros Properties, the developer of Nova Place, The Buhl Foundation, Comcast and Urban Innovation21 have formed a partnership “to drive inclusive innovation and accelerate entrepreneurship on the Northside at Nova Place.”
Diana Bucco, president of The Buhl Foundation, said the partnership “establishes Nova Place as a community hub with free, state-of-the-art technology provided by Comcast and innovative entrepreneurial support provided by Urban Innovation21.
“Today we announce the next step of the evolution of this Northside hub,” said Bucco, “with the intersection of creativity and technology through the installation of hard wired and wifi throughout Nova Place, thus officially launching the Creative Industries Corridor.”
Nova Place will host Pittsburgh’s first public Xfinity wifi from Comcast with a blazing fast 1 GB-per-second connection throughout the concourse and the outdoor plaza, soon to open as a redesigned green space.
Bucco described the ONE Northside initiative, funded by The Buhl Foundation, as a resident-driven community plan to improve the quality of place, education and employment for all residents on the Northside.
The two-year planning process engaged thousands of Northsiders and the community ultimately identified two crucial goals, said Bucco.
“The community envisioned a Creative Industry Corridor that builds on Northside’s cultural and creative assets, provides access to state-of-the-art digital technology and first-class space where residents can convene and develop skills in entrepreneurship, education, and workforce development.”
The result of the partnership involving the four groups is the perfect alignment of that community vision, she said, with “collaboration spaces where entrepreneurs and community partners can inspire, educate and foster growth together.”
William Generett, president and CEO of the group that is driving the programming, Urban Innovation21, expects work to start next month. “We’re really excited to partner with a private developer that has made a commitment to being inclusive and we’ll be doing a wide range of programming for folks,” he said. “We’re going to be able to do some of the programming we’ve done in the Hill District and in Homewood.”
In his opening remarks, Jeremy Leventhal of Faros Properties noted that more than 100 companies are now working out of Alloy 26, the largest co-workspace in Pittsburgh, and more than 700,000 square feet of tenant space has been leased in the last seven months at Nova Place, a $250 million renovation launched in May 2015.
The partnership welcomes other groups seeking to drive innovation and collaboration. The group is working toward additional investments around programming and expanded space to enhance Nova Place’s ability to provide shared resources that helps both its tenants and the Northside community.
Correction: An earlier version of this article indicated more than 200 companies are now working at Alloy 26. There are in fact more than 100 companies. A change has been made to reflect this.