Facebook is starting small when it comes to its third Menlo Park campus, located on Constitution Drive near the corner of Chilco Street and Bayfront Expressway. One building will first be redeveloped, with the remaining nine buildings to be renovated after the social media company comes forward with a "master plan" for the campus next year.
The Planning Commission voted 6-0, with John Onken recused due to recent business dealings with Facebook, to approve the permit needed to proceed with converting a 185,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution building on the site to "general offices and ancillary employee amenities."
Facebook bought the 59-acre property earlier this year from TE Connectivity. Gehry Partners, the firm founded by renowned architect Frank Gehry, is designing that site in addition to Facebook's "west campus" next door.
Commissioner John Kadvany described the building as an "anchor point" for the entire campus. Facebook representatives told the commission that it will contain about 1,500 employees once renovations are finished. Removing mezzanines and making other internal adjustments will leave the finished project with 108,108 square feet of floor area.
External changes will include fresh white paint, a shuttle stop, a new garden at the entrance and possibly a cedar deck and a trellis to replace a loading dock, according to the staff report. A cafe, fitness center and other amenities may also be built.
The site would also gain 34 trees, for a total of 95.
Given the site's location within a flood zone, flood-proofing is taking a high priority. Facebook representatives said they were still figuring that out, but one likely outcome is that the building's entry points will be elevated.
The company estimated that the new building would lead to 3,742 to 4,465 daily vehicle trips to and from the campus, depending on when other occupants at the site vacate the premises. TE Connectivity, for example, along with other businesses, still uses a portion of the property.
Facebook representatives told the commission that approximately 50 percent of its employees participate in programs designed to reduce traffic, and that in addition to bike and pedestrian paths, a "people mover" transporter will run between all three campuses, passing through an existing tunnel to cross the Bayfront Expressway.
The company will have three options for meeting its obligation to provide affordable housing in exchange for the new construction. Those options are to pay $1.2 million to the city's below-market-rate housing fund, to provide four off-site housing units, or a combination of the two.