Menlo Park council wants more concessions from Meta on Willow Village | November 18, 2022 | Almanac | Almanac Online |
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News - November 18, 2022

Menlo Park council wants more concessions from Meta on Willow Village

Vote on approval of huge multi-use development expected by year's end

by Cameron Rebosio

The Menlo Park City Council met on Nov. 15 and asked Meta to make some concessions on its massive mixed-use Willow Village development in the Belle Haven neighborhood, with a final council decision expected before the end of the year.

The project will redevelop 59 acres with up to 1.2 million square feet of offices and 1,730 homes. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, also has plans to build a hotel, retail and commercial space and parks, among other things. The main development would be built along Willow Road between Hamilton Avenue and Ivy Drive, according to the application.

Ahead of a final vote on the project, the council used the meeting as an opportunity to ask for more concessions from Meta and Signature, the project's developer, to make some changes to the plan.

Meta and the city came to an agreement surrounding the highly anticipated grocery store. Meta agreed to add $1 million to the initial $2 million of rent subsidy that it's providing, and move the project timeline up so that the mixed-use residential building that includes the grocery store is built sooner.

The council initially asked for five years of free rent for a grocer, but Meta stood by its proposal to offer free rent for two years as planned, adding $1 million to either subsidize an additional year or partially subsidize several years.

"Our goal isn't to have ... corporate welfare for large national corporations, but to incent them to come and sign a lease and move forward," said Michael Ghielmetti, a representative of Signature.

Meta has also agreed to hold five job fairs for residents of East Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Previously, if Meta had a hiring freeze, the job fairs would be canceled, but now Meta will instead postpone and hold the events another time.

Meta declined requests to use entirely zero-emission landscaping maintenance without first looking into available equipment and the cost of such measures, however Signature agreed to use non-diesel generators on the project if the machinery is available by the time it's needed.

Meta agreed to the council's request that the city's access to the shared event spaces be put into writing.

The discussion of the plan was continued to the regularly scheduled Nov. 30 City Council meeting in anticipation of a final vote before the end of the year.

Email staff writer Cameron Rebosio at [email protected]


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