Almanac

News - April 3, 2013

Menlo Park council approves Facebook expansion

by Sandy Brundage

The Menlo Park City Council has unanimously approved the various permits and agreements that will let Facebook build a second, "west" campus on Constitution Drive.

Voting 4-0 on March 26, with colleague Cat Carlton absent, the council proceeded with little deliberation to approve the social media company's plans to construct an "office in a forest" designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry at 312 and 313 Constitution Drive, across from its headquarters off Willow Road.

The 433,555-square-foot structure would include a sprawling open-design office space sandwiched between a rooftop garden and bottom-floor parking garage.

The approvals included the below-market-rate housing agreement for the project. Facebook will either pay about $4.5 million in in-lieu fees, provide 15 off-site housing units, or some combination of the two.

The development agreement, approved earlier this year, includes paying $1.7 million, to be distributed to Menlo Park over 10 years, among other community benefits.

Construction companies with subcontracts worth at least $5 million will get permits allowing Menlo Park to collect sales and use taxes on materials for building the new facility. The city estimates that would divert $100,000 to $300,000 to Menlo Park.

The agreement guarantees 10 years of property tax payments to the city based on the projected $300 million assessment value of the redeveloped property.

The contract also implements a vehicle trip cap of 1,100 trips during commute hours to the Constitution Drive campus and 6,350 daily trips, with the same financial penalties as for the main campus — $50 per trip over the cap per day, with escalating fees tied to the number of excess trips.

According to a Facebook spokesperson, no date has been set for starting construction, but the company hopes to do so in May.

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