Almanac

News - February 27, 2013

Facebook seeks land to build housing

by Sandy Brundage

Like the city itself, Facebook's hunting for spots to build homes in Menlo Park. The social media company either needs to create 15 homes, or pay $4.5 million in in-lieu fees, according to the proposed below-market-rate housing agreement

An attempt to buy lots the city owned at 777-821 Hamilton Avenue failed when Facebook was outbid, according to company representatives. Menlo Park sold the land for $8 million in November to Greenheart Land Company, which plans to build housing on the 2.1 acres, and possibly expand the project to 7.1 acres if adjacent property owners agree to sell.

The agreement is tied to Facebook's plans to build a sprawling "office in a forest" on 312 and 313 Constitution Drive, down the road from its main campus. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, the 433,555-square-foot building would perch on top of approximately 1,540 parking spaces, and blend into the landscape through ground-level gardens that wind their way up to a rooftop terrace, creating a forest visible from the Bayfront Expressway. An estimated 2,800 employees, mainly engineers, would work there.

In January the City Council unanimously approved a development agreement for the auxiliary campus that provides $1.7 million distributed over 10 years, a vehicle-trip cap and possible tax revenue.

Housing commissioners unanimously recommended approval of the below-market-rate housing agreement on Feb. 20. The contract went to the Planning Commission on Feb. 25 and then to the City Council for a final review.

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