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Tonight: Menlo Park Planning Commission meets on Facebook housing, specific plan review

Continuing their ongoing review of the specific plan, the Menlo Park planning commissioners will take up the topic for a third time tonight, with a possible focus on infrastructure funding, how to ensure compliance for renovations and the design of a public plaza at Middle Avenue.

But first, the commission will hold a study session on the 394-unit apartment complex Facebook and real estate developer St. Anton Partners plan to build on 10 acres of land off Marsh Road, within walking distance of the social networking company's headquarters at 1 Hacker Way and Willow Road.

The complex, to be built from 3606 to 3639 Haven Avenue, will include 15 affordable housing units subsidized by the social networking company that will be income-restricted for 55 years and indistinguishable from other apartments at the complex, Facebook said.

St. Anton will provide another 23 affordable units, according to the staff report, adding 38 total to the city's inventory.

Construction of the $120 million, approximately 630,000-square-foot project should start this month, according to Facebook, and finish within two years.

The site design incorporates the addition of 400 trees, according to the planning staff report, as well as 691 parking spaces.

The Planning Commission does not need to approve the project, but will have the chance to provide feedback on the architectural design during the Oct. 7 study session.

The community development director will determine whether the project complies with the zoning code, which was recently modified during the city's housing element update to allow high-density residential development on the Haven Avenue site. With the provision of affordable units, the new zoning allows a density bonus to permit construction of 40 units per acre.

While staff agreed that the density bonus is appropriate, the report indicates they don't agree with the applicant's request to slightly raise the maximum building height from about 54 feet to a little over 57 feet. The current design proposes using the height increase to build three apartments on top of a fitness center; staff has suggested that those units could be put somewhere else on the site instead.

Click here to review the entire agenda and associated staff reports. Tonight's meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. in council chambers at the Civic Center at 701 Laurel St., will be shown online.

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