Meta's ambitious Willow Village development in Belle Haven was approved Dec. 6 after two years of collaboration and deliberation with the Menlo Park City Council.
The project will redevelop 59 acres with up to 1.2 million square feet of office space and up to 1,730 units. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, has plans to build the ambitious mixed-use development with office, housing and a 193-room hotel, plus 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.
Of the proposed 1,730 units, 312 are being offered at a below-market rate ranging from moderate-income to extremely low-income. Willow Village will also have a 19-unit affordable senior housing building.
"At the end of the day, this project is really kind of a cost-benefit analysis," said Council member Jen Wolosin. "Are we getting enough benefits? Are we getting enough assurance that the things that we want and the things that the community has asked for are going to actually happen in a way that serves the residents?"
The final project timeline starts infrastructure work in late 2023, and begins construction of the highly anticipated grocery store in 2025. The project is expected to be completed by 2029.
The conditional development permit (CDP) includes language from prior City Council meetings to promote the environmental welfare of the site. Concessions from Meta included using the lowest emission construction equipment possible, provided it doesn't increase costs, as well as photographing the nearby Willow wetlands at night, in order to compare light pollution levels as the project progresses.
"Some things we can live with, and some things we will continue to talk about moving forward," Council member Cecilia Taylor said. "Many folks in my community that have actually reached out to me directly that believe that this project will be good for the community, and also for the city of Menlo Park."
The community and council have both been heavily interested in the full-service grocery store that Meta has promised. In negotiations, the timeline for the grocery store development has been moved up to begin in 2025, and it will get an additional $1 million rent subsidy from Meta in addition to the previously offered two-years subsidy.
The City Council voted unanimously to approve the project, with Council member Drew Combs absent. Combs, a Meta employee, has recused himself from all deliberations regarding Willow Village.
A second vote to formally approve the CDP is set for the Dec. 13 City Council meeting.
Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Dec 12, 2022 at 9:06 am
on Dec 12, 2022 at 9:06 am
How ironic that in the same meeting the town council approves a massive project that will bring thousands more workers with a known deficit of more than 800 new homes and displacement of more than a thousand, they then talk about not allowing any all-office zoning -- in the future. Oh, and that means not applying that change to the largest project in Menlo Park's history that will bring six office towers on land zoned Office.
Then the council decided to offer incentives to the developer if the project's vehicle trips were reduced -- not exercising their power to require a reduction.
None of the Council discussed adding 200 more homes to Willow Village, with former mayor Taylor stating that she refuses to consider more homes in her district, essentially saying I'm getting what I want, and the rest of Menlo Park has to deal with the problems we are creating tonight by approving this project with this much office and not enough homes. The rest of the council remained silent. Good luck in the next RHNA round!