Facebook Reaches Campus Expansion Development Agreement with Menlo Park

facebook-campus The Registry real estateBy Jacob Bourne

Plans for the construction of two new office buildings totaling 962,400 square feet for Facebook’s campus on Constitution Drive in Menlo Park are moving forward with the conclusion of the public review period earlier this month. On July 14, the Mayor Richard Cline released the agreement terms for the development with focus on the community benefits associated with the project as well as aspects addressing long-term solutions to the housing and congestion issues facing the area.

[contextly_sidebar id=”8oKAdcClsGhqE9oaw57HcuRptdqBOSe8″]“Facebook’s commitment to help build a stronger community is not only reflected in the proposed development agreement terms, but it’s also underscored in how we work with our neighbors,” said John Tenanes, Facebook’s VP of global facilities and real estate. “It’s our responsibility to provide public benefits that are responsive to community priorities and assist with finding solutions to address regional challenges related to housing and transportation. We want to continue to build social value and grow responsibly in the City of Menlo Park.”

The project has been deemed to comply with the Menlo Park General Plan guidelines and the General Industrial zoning requirements, though it requires variances for building height and the addition of a limited-service, 174,800 square foot hotel. The transformation of this formerly industrial site is to bring numerous economic, structural and environmental benefits to the community. Public benefit payments and taxes associated with the development will be well over $2 million yearly while about $3.8 million will go towards funding for transportation and infrastructure benefits including contributions to the Dumbarton Corridor Study, an initiative of SamTrans to improve the flow of traffic in Alameda, Santa Clara and San Mateo counties.

The agreement also details extensive terms for housing benefits, most notably the goal of generating $6.3 million dollars toward the creation of affordable housing. Additionally, $350,000 will pay for the Housing Inventory and Local Supply Study, which will then be used to implement a strategy to best utilize the Housing Innovation Fund to which the project will contribute $1.5 million. Facebook will also be undertaking a residential project at the Prologis Site to supply 1,500 units of housing including workforce units and 15 percent below market rate units. The company is also allotting $2.15 million for the Workforce Housing Program to reduce rents in the Belle Haven neighborhood.

“I think it’s an exciting agreement as it relates to affordable housing,” said Matt Franklin, executive director, Mid Pen Housing. “Facebook has been very engaged with the community around this issue. The agreement is a robust mix in terms of actions and strategies towards finding solutions to affordable housing.”

Franklin remarked that he is especially hopeful about the value of the Housing Innovation Fund, the Prologis below-market rate units, as well as the dedication he has witnessed on the part of Facebook in collaborations with the City. As the rapid rent increases have been a main driver of local resident displacement, the Housing Inventory and Local Supply Study will be vital to finding high-impact solutions to these problems.

“I give them credit for taking on these units,” he added. “It’s essential that the affordable housing be included on-site for socioeconomic integration, so that the community isn’t stratified.”

Two acres of open space in the campus vicinity for public and employee use is one of the key environmental benefits granted by the project. The uses will be enriched by a farmer’s market, and community events such as festivals and outdoor entertainment. The two office buildings will gain LEED Gold certification and involve an adjacent bridge connecting the Bay with local neighborhoods. Facebook’s community benefits extend well beyond the campus site and promise considerable impacts on the livability of Menlo Park and East Palo Alto.

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