Menlo Park: Facebook hotel developer wants more rooms, less parking than OK'd | News | Almanac Online |


Menlo Park: Facebook hotel developer wants more rooms, less parking than OK'd

Developer seeks more rooms, less parking than originally proposed

A rendering of the citizenM hotel proposed on Facebook property at the corner of Chilco Street (rear left) and Bayfront Expressway (rear right) along the city's Bay side. Rendering courtesy of citizenM /Gensler/city of Menlo Park.

Two and a half years after it was approved, in concept, by the Menlo Park City Council, Facebook is moving ahead with its plans to build a new hotel at the corner of Chilco Street and Bayfront Expressway.

Facebook has contracted with citizenM, a Netherlands-based hotel chain, for the hotel project, and last night (July 22), citizenM representatives argued their case before the Planning Commission for why they should be permitted to build 40 additional rooms beyond the 200 already approved, decrease the number of parking spaces to 120 parking spaces from 245, and move forward with the proposed modular architecture.

The proposed hotel would be five stories tall and about 91,000 square feet, according to a staff report. The hotel would also contain a restaurant.

According to Ernest Lee, a member of the citizenM development team, the hotel chain focuses on high-quality designs at an "accessible price point." Rooms run small while shared amenity spaces are more spacious, he said.

The group plans to feature art prominently at the hotel, as well as offer extensive outdoor landscaping.

The 12-year-old company is currently developing hotels in Seattle and downtown Los Angeles and other U.S. cities, and operates hotels in London and Amsterdam, among other cities. It just opened its 18th hotel worldwide, Lee said.

Part of the reason for the request for additional rooms has to do with demand. Currently, local employers generate demand for about 400 to 450 hotel rooms a night on a daily basis, he said.

Earlier, the City Council had approved a 200-room hotel on Facebook property as part of the company's West Campus Expansion development agreement.

The citizenM representatives noted that they're working with Facebook to develop a shared parking agreement, with plans to use a nearby Facebook parking structure.

Commissioner Henry Riggs expressed skepticism that the parking demand of the hotel could be met by sharing some spots with another nearby parking area. People traveling to visit the Bay Area often want cars to drive to visit the coast or the East Bay, and Facebook's parking lots are often full, he noted.

One "bummer" of the project, in the words of commission Chair Andrew Barnes, is that the new onsite wastewater system at Facebook being used to recycle black water for toilets and irrigation will be maxed out at the company's other new buildings and won't have capacity to work at the hotel, according to Fergus O'Shea, director of campus development at Facebook.

When it comes to figuring what kind of art to include, Commissioner Michele Tate recommended that the developer conduct public outreach with nearby residents. She also urged it to focus on hiring locals as staff.

While approval of the first 200 rooms of the hotel was covered under the previous development agreement the city worked out with Facebook, the addition of 40 new rooms, as well as the proposed parking reduction, will eventually have to be approved by the City Council to proceed. Those 40 rooms will also be counted toward the cap created in the ConnectMenlo General Plan update of 400 new total hotel rooms on the city's Bay side, according to Kyle Perata, acting principal planner with the city.

The Planning Commission's discussion about the hotel was during a study session, so the commission did not take a vote. The matter will be brought back to the commission at a later date for it to make a formal recommendation to the council in support or opposition to the proposal, according to staff.


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14 people like this
Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jul 23, 2019 at 1:52 pm

These developers never want to abide. I say offer less rooms and require more parking. Also how many stories? Environmental on wind and climate changes to MP properties west of the project including Bell Haven and MP west of 101.

2 people like this
Posted by really?
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jul 23, 2019 at 2:24 pm

Battery farm for Facebook employees- they showed a picture of the room and it looked like Kenau Reeves waking up in the Matrix. Bad shoe-box building with a decorative red stair.

27 people like this
Posted by No Thanks
a resident of Portola Valley: other
on Jul 23, 2019 at 2:42 pm

How about a big fat NO to Facebook, always trying to bend the rules after the fact. Breach of contract. And it’s not a “bummer” that the waste water is maxed out. It’s a reason to deny this whole development. When is this development frenzy going to end?

20 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 23, 2019 at 4:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Just say NO.

Like this comment
Posted by Thomas Anderson
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 23, 2019 at 7:09 pm

Keep building, keep increasing capacity. Every single homeowner in MP and Atherton is rooting for you.

9 people like this
Posted by Rudy
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 23, 2019 at 7:24 pm

Having lived here since 1979, I will remember Facebook moving in as the beginning of the end. The developer will get what they want. Someone will have their palm greased. Traffic will get even worse. And 0 new development in Sharon Heights to help with caps or state mandates or low income housing. I hope the whole place falls into the bay.

9 people like this
Posted by Rudy
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Jul 23, 2019 at 7:28 pm

Oh and get out of my face with the artwork. I. Don’t. Care. Nobody cares. We can’t afford a night at this hotel and will never see the art.

17 people like this
Posted by Brian
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 23, 2019 at 9:22 pm

This is ridiculous. They should either build what was approved without any changes to size or parking spaces or they should reapply for a permit for the new building and run the risk of the project being rejected outright. Do we need another hotel in that area? There is already a new one over there.

4 people like this
Posted by MP Resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 2:22 am

There are plenty of hotels in the world with limited parking. There is a really simple answer - if you need to park, you reserve a parking space. Once they have reserved all of the parking spaces, further reservations are "no parking included" only. This would enable any mix of parking and rooms, with the caveat that you might strand room capacity (not the city's problem!) if the parking is sold out.

People staying there for Facebook mostly do not need rental cars (Uber/Lyft from the airport and walk to the office). *Some* people staying for other reasons will bring cars, but quite a few won't - especially since this hotel will likely appeal to a younger demographic who is much less likely to be a licensed driver, let alone rent a car.

6 people like this
Posted by Martin
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jul 24, 2019 at 1:02 pm

What's wrong with more rooms? That just gives us now tax revenue and less parking will lead to less traffic.

Let the hotel worry about running shuttles to SFO and Caltrain. Plus, if we are spending money on Dumbarton service, why sabotage ridership by making driving easier and cheaper?

4 people like this
Posted by Bob
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jul 24, 2019 at 1:11 pm

Putting a cap on hotel rooms is ridiculous. No wonder hotel rooms in this area are redicously priced for poor quality when the council is artificially limiting supply. Stop wasting time driving community engagement on artworks and focus on approving more requests for increased housing and accommodation!

45 people like this
Posted by long timer
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2019 at 1:33 pm

I grew up in Menlo Park...BACK when it was quaint charming Menlo Park. This City has sold it soul to the devil. I left California years ago when all this madness started. What a total shame. This is NOT the Menlo Park I knew and loved.

10 people like this
Posted by What next?
a resident of another community
on Jul 24, 2019 at 8:26 pm

Just say NO? Menlo Park can't ever say NO to Facebook. The company owns the town. Be thankful Facebook does not require that the town change its name to FRIENDMEVILLE.

10 people like this
Posted by keep eyes open
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jul 25, 2019 at 9:27 am

The ConnectMenlo plan was supposed to last until 2040, with a limit of 400 new hotel rooms in the Bayfront area. With other known hotel proposals, a General Plan amendment would be necessary because the total would exceed 400. Our city has no need to approve more than what was in the Plan. Is Facebook willing to include a smaller hotel in its Willow Village proposal?
Saying "no" at this time is good until appropriate phasing of the approved 400 rooms can be figured out. Our community is besieged with development and an inadequate support infrastructure. There is no benefit to approving more than the Plan.

Keep eyes open - be sure that this hotel doesn't become longterm stays for workers and consultants. The attractive Transient Occupancy Taxes disappear when that happens. Project approvals should put constraints on such possibilities for this and other hotels.

6 people like this
Posted by Robert
a resident of another community
on Jul 25, 2019 at 1:09 pm

People drive in this area. Period. One parking spot per room is the MINIMUM that is needed. Where are the employees of the hotel parking? "Overflow parking" is a joke - some people may take ridesharing to get to the hotel, but most people will drive and need a place to park. Just. Say. No.

10 people like this
Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jul 25, 2019 at 1:19 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It would be very good for both the Planning Commission and the City Council to learn the simply phrase - "NO"

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