By Meghan Hall
Facebook’s plans for its 59-acre property in Menlo Park has received an update, replacing development plans announced in June of 2019. According to public documents, Peninsula Innovation Partners LLC and Signature Development Group submitted updated Master Plan materials on behalf of Facebook in mid-May, greatly reducing the expected office footprint and adding additional housing, among other changes.
The development—known more widely as Willow Village—was once the Prologis Menlo Science and Technology Park and is located in Menlo Park’s Bayfront Area. To date, the property is developed with some 20 buildings, a mix of office, research and development and warehousing uses. Prologis sold the property to Facebook in February of 2015.
“The impetus behind the changes are a reflection of the conversations we have had with our neighbors and the community at large. The changes reflect that the community wants a better balance between housing and office, that the place we are building needs to invite and engage with the existing neighborhood, that it needs to address specific critical needs,” explained Mike Ghielmetti of Signature Development Group. We believe the latest submittal and changes therein achieve this balance…We understand directly that the success of Willow Village isn’t just about a financially feasible project, but instead about the building of a place that balances community needs and integrates with the existing neighborhood. These changes move us much further to a program of providing retail, housing, employment and open space that reaches that balance.”
All existing buildings, utilities and trees will be demolished in order to make way for the project.
Previous plans included nearly 1.75 million square feet of new office space for Facebook. However, after receiving feedback from the community and Menlo Park city officials, the project team is dialing back the amount of office space by 30 percent by reducing seated worker capacity. As a result, project documents show that 1.25 million square feet of office will be developed instead.
In addition, the project team has added to its residential allocation, increasing the number of on-site units to 1,735. Initially, 15 percent of those units were designated as affordable housing, while new plans show that 20 percent of units will be set aside as affordable. A project variant included in the most recent submittal indicates that the development team could also choose to increase the maximum residential unit count to 1,935.
“Delivering a better balance of housing and employment stands out as most representative of the spirit of this project, and reflects our focus on serving as part of the solution for our neighbors and the broader community. Jobs, affordable housing, and traffic are consistently the top issues identified by the community,” added Ghielmetti. “Willow Village sets an important example for Menlo Park and our peers in the region that with effort, the right balance can be achieved.”
Plans also include 200,000 square feet of retail uses, an up to 193-key hotel and 500,000 square feet of accessory uses—defined as food services, a health and wellness center, fitness center, employee amenities, open space, and meeting and collaboration spaces. A 4-acre public park, 1.5-acre Town Square and a 0.3-acre dog part are also denoted in the plans. A 2.1-acre elevated park was also added to the updated project proposal.
Development is expected to occur in three phases. Phase 1A will include the southernmost portion of the site and is expected to include 719 residential units, including 15 percent below market rate, the 4-acre public park, community space and 32,000 square feet of retail. In the Campus District, 597,000 square feet of office will be construct and may include am employee health and wellness center and a parking garage with 1,288 spaces.
Phase 1B will consist of the middle portion of the project site, and include the completion of the remaining 1,016 residential units, 102,000 square feet of retail—including a grocery store—and 500,000 square feet of commercial space in the Campus District.
Phase 2, the northern portion of the site, will see the build out of 172,000 square feet of hotel space, the Town Square and associated parking garage and 66,000 square feet of retail uses. In the Campus District, the remaining 653,000 square feet of office and a north parking garage with more than 2,000 parking spaces will be constructed.
Prior to beginning construction, there are a number of City actions still required, including the approval of a conditional development permit, general plan and zoning amendments, design review and certification of the project’s environmental impact report. Entitlements for the project are expected to wrap up in mid-2021.