News

Environmental review of Meta's huge Willow Village project heads to Menlo Park council

A rendering of what Facebook’s new offices could look like at Willow Village. The developer plans to use a timber-based construction method to reduce carbon emissions. Rendering courtesy Facebook/Signature Development Group.

A major mixed-use project proposed by Meta could advance this month, as Menlo Park City Council members consider the environmental review of the massive, mixed-use Willow Village project.

The Menlo Park Planning Commission reviewed the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) last month, recommending eight conditions in order for it to win approval.

Despite dumping real estate leases in other cities and laying off a reported 13% of its employees this week, Meta still has plans to redevelop 59 acres near its Menlo Park headquarters with up to 1.2 million square feet of offices and 1,730 units of housing.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, plans to build the ambitious mixed-use development with office and residential uses plus a hotel, retail and commercial space, a dog park and a publicly accessible park in the Belle Haven neighborhood. The main development would be built along Willow Road between Hamilton Avenue and Ivy Drive, according to the application.

Meta addressed the fears caused by its termination of several leases, saying company officials "remain very committed to well-located, high-quality, highly amenetized space," and that the Willow Village project was a prime example of that.

Help sustain the local news you depend on.

Your contribution matters. Become a member today.

Join

One condition laid out by the Planning Commission was a guarantee of the operation of community amenities, like the grocery store, which will serve the neighborhood. Commissioner Cynthia Harris also proposed the recommendation that Meta must guarantee 60 months of rent subsidy instead of the 24 months proposed in the staff report, which said that's the minimum amount of time needed for a grocery store to become self-sustainable.

The language of the EIR currently states that Signature, one of two developers for the project, will build up to 1,730 units of housing in the Willow Village development, as well as up to a certain number of hotel rooms. The Planning Commission recommended that these numbers be considered minimums instead. Signature is also asked to commit to providing 100% of "gap" funding for affordable senior housing, which is a component of the housing proposal.

The commission also requested that the developer provide a Transportation Demand Management plan that reduces the expected number of trips into Menlo Park by 1,000 vehicle trips.

The commission expressed concern that the campus would not bring the promised vibrancy to the neighborhood, and that it could become an isolated area that was mostly for employees of Meta.

"The real concern for me is that this is going to be not a hub for a vibrant community across all of Menlo Park, but it's actually going to be an island oasis, " said commission Chair Chris DeCardy.

The commission discussed Meta taking ownership of the section of Willow Road in order to be able to make improvements surrounding the connection of Meta to the rest of the community, but it was determined that it was not within the commission's power to request this.

The City Council is set to discuss the EIR at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and take public comment.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Stay informed

Get the latest local news and information sent straight to your inbox.

Cameron Rebosio
 
Cameron Rebosio joined the Almanac in 2022 as the Menlo Park reporter. She previously wrote for the Daily Californian and the Palo Alto Weekly. Read more >>

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Environmental review of Meta's huge Willow Village project heads to Menlo Park council

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Fri, Nov 11, 2022, 7:51 am

A major mixed-use project proposed by Meta could advance this month, as Menlo Park City Council members consider the environmental review of the massive, mixed-use Willow Village project.

The Menlo Park Planning Commission reviewed the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) last month, recommending eight conditions in order for it to win approval.

Despite dumping real estate leases in other cities and laying off a reported 13% of its employees this week, Meta still has plans to redevelop 59 acres near its Menlo Park headquarters with up to 1.2 million square feet of offices and 1,730 units of housing.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, plans to build the ambitious mixed-use development with office and residential uses plus a hotel, retail and commercial space, a dog park and a publicly accessible park in the Belle Haven neighborhood. The main development would be built along Willow Road between Hamilton Avenue and Ivy Drive, according to the application.

Meta addressed the fears caused by its termination of several leases, saying company officials "remain very committed to well-located, high-quality, highly amenetized space," and that the Willow Village project was a prime example of that.

One condition laid out by the Planning Commission was a guarantee of the operation of community amenities, like the grocery store, which will serve the neighborhood. Commissioner Cynthia Harris also proposed the recommendation that Meta must guarantee 60 months of rent subsidy instead of the 24 months proposed in the staff report, which said that's the minimum amount of time needed for a grocery store to become self-sustainable.

The language of the EIR currently states that Signature, one of two developers for the project, will build up to 1,730 units of housing in the Willow Village development, as well as up to a certain number of hotel rooms. The Planning Commission recommended that these numbers be considered minimums instead. Signature is also asked to commit to providing 100% of "gap" funding for affordable senior housing, which is a component of the housing proposal.

The commission also requested that the developer provide a Transportation Demand Management plan that reduces the expected number of trips into Menlo Park by 1,000 vehicle trips.

The commission expressed concern that the campus would not bring the promised vibrancy to the neighborhood, and that it could become an isolated area that was mostly for employees of Meta.

"The real concern for me is that this is going to be not a hub for a vibrant community across all of Menlo Park, but it's actually going to be an island oasis, " said commission Chair Chris DeCardy.

The commission discussed Meta taking ownership of the section of Willow Road in order to be able to make improvements surrounding the connection of Meta to the rest of the community, but it was determined that it was not within the commission's power to request this.

The City Council is set to discuss the EIR at its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 15, and take public comment.

Comments

PH
Registered user
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Nov 12, 2022 at 2:02 pm
PH, Woodside: Emerald Hills
Registered user
on Nov 12, 2022 at 2:02 pm

Section 6 of the Housing Needs Assessment: Web Link

"6.1 Net Impact on Housing Availability Regionally

The proposed Project is estimated to result in net decrease in available housing units of 815 units regionally, as shown in Table 6-1. This estimate reflects the combined effect of:

-Addition of up to 1,730 new residential units to the housing supply; and
-2,545 units of added housing demand from new on-site and off-site workers.

The 815-unit net decrease in regional housing availability represents an increase in housing demand that exceeds the number of new residential units added to the housing supply.

... the 815-unit net decrease in available housing throughout the region consists of 127 Extremely Low, 270 Very Low, 727 Low ... units. The decrease in housing availability in the Extremely Low, Very Low, Low ... is partially offset by increases in available housing in the Moderate and Above Moderate categories ..."


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

In order to encourage respectful and thoughtful discussion, commenting on stories is available to those who are registered users. If you are already a registered user and the commenting form is not below, you need to log in. If you are not registered, you can do so here.

Please make sure your comments are truthful, on-topic and do not disrespect another poster. Don't be snarky or belittling. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

See our announcement about requiring registration for commenting.