Facebook reviews real estate elsewhere as contingency plan | March 21, 2012 | Almanac | Almanac Online |



News - March 21, 2012

Facebook reviews real estate elsewhere as contingency plan

by Sandy Brundage

Dust has yet to settle on renovations at Facebook's new Menlo Park headquarters, and while the company doesn't seem to want to leave any time soon, it's made a cursory check of real estate in other cities just in case negotiations over its planned campus expansion fall apart, according to local news reports.

"It's our hope that Menlo Park and East Palo Alto see the incredible economic benefits to having a good neighbor, like Facebook, join the community," Facebook spokesman Tucker Bounds said in an email to the Almanac on March 16. "We expect to grow and thrive responsibly in Menlo Park, but it's important for us to evaluate other options in the case that our plans are not fully approved and supported."

Facebook is asking Menlo Park to swap an existing cap of 3,600 employees for a traffic cap instead at its main Willow Road campus — now known as 1 Hacker Way. The requested cap is for 15,000 daily trips, with 2,600 during rush hour.

In exchange, the City Council compiled its own wish list of public benefits and mitigations, including completing a one-mile gap in the Bay Trail; affordable housing; creating an ongoing community foundation; jobs; penalties for exceeding the vehicle trip cap; and in-lieu fees to compensate for lost sales tax revenue.

The city's negotiation team plans to bring a proposed development agreement to the council in April, according to staff. On the team are City Attorney Bill McClure, Public Works Director Chip Taylor, Development Services Manager Justin Murphy, and David Boesch, a former city manager and former county manager.

At a Feb. 14 council meeting, David Ebersman, the company's chief financial officer, said that while the company is currently happy in Menlo Park, the negotiations will decide whether Facebook sticks around. He asked the council to consider "appropriate goals."

According to the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Journal, the Pacific Research Center in Newark may be a fallback location.

Councilman Rich Cline, who has watched Facebook's relocation to Menlo Park from the beginning, told the Almanac that he thinks Facebook has to always keep an out on the horizon on all fronts, real estate included.

"I cannot speak to Facebook and its motives, obviously," he said. "I know that we are having good discussions and that we both seek a positive outcome in Menlo Park."


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