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Menlo update: Downtown plan delay; Facebook upgrades

 

Menlo Park residents will wait another four weeks before seeing the environmental impact report for the downtown specific plan. In the meantime, the city is focusing on Facebook's desire to add amenities to its new home on the former Sun campus, according to presentations at the Chamber of Commerce's annual meeting on Thursday, Feb. 24.

Mayor Rich Cline told a crowd that included fellow council member Peter Ohtaki, City Manager Glen Rojas, and developer David Bohannon, who serves on the chamber board, that the environmental impact report (EIR) for the downtown specific plan could be released by the end of March.

First expected last fall, the release of the EIR was delayed as the city refines each element of the report in anticipation of heated public debate.

The council will take no action on the report during the summer to give staff time to analyze public comments, Mr. Cline said, but hopes to vote in the fall as long as the plan escapes the "political paralysis" that plagued similar Menlo Park projects in the past.

Stanford University, which owns vacant lots along El Camino Real, is actively participating in the planning process, according to the mayor. The university particularly wants to see senior housing that would include retail and hotels along that corridor.

Meanwhile, the city remains busy helping Facebook settle in at 10 Network Circle. The social networking giant's dreams for its new campus include opening a bike shop, small bookstore, perhaps Kepler's, and a three-days-a-week farmer's market, according to Dave Johnson, the city's business development manager.

The company also wants to add a "European feel" to the central corridor of the former Sun campus that would spill out into the nearby business area, Mr. Johnson said. The first employees should move in during July, after Facebook finishes knocking down interior walls and other renovations to buildings 10 and 11 on campus.

A "charrette" at the campus on Saturday, March 5, will feature 77 design professionals and 25 student architects working with Belle Haven residents and other stakeholders to suggest plans for four regions around Facebook's new home. The community planning process runs from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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