With Facebook Willow Campus announcement, a new neighborhood comes to Menlo Park
Editor’s note: In August 2016, Facebook purchased the 56-acre industrial park called Menlo Science & Technology Park on Willow Road in Menlo Park, which is just south of its corporate headquarters. At that time, a company spokesperson said there was no immediate plans to redevelop the land. That changes with today’s announcement from John Tenanes, VP Global Facilities and Real Estate, which follows below.
We found a home when we moved to Menlo Park in 2011. We are part of this community, and being here makes it possible for us to work on our mission to bring the world closer together.
That’s why we plan to keep investing in this community. When we first expanded beyond our original campus, we looked no further than across the street. Frank Gehry helped us design that building, which we call MPK20. Our presence has expanded further since then, and we are now planning to redevelop the former Menlo Science & Technology Park which we intend to call Willow Campus.
Working with the community, our goal for the Willow Campus is to create an integrated, mixed-use village that will provide much needed services, housing and transit solutions as well as office space. Part of our vision is to create a neighborhood center that provides long-needed community services. We plan to build 125,000 square feet of new retail space, including a grocery store, pharmacy and additional community-facing retail.
The first official step will be the filing of our plan with Menlo Park in July 2017. We will begin more formal conversations with local government officials and community organizations over the course of the review process, which we expect to last approximately two years. We envision construction will follow in phases, with the first to include the grocery, retail, housing and office completed in early 2021, and subsequent phases will take two years each to complete.
Housing is also critically important to these efforts. We hope to contribute significantly to the housing supply by building 1,500 units of housing on the campus, 15% of which will be offered at below market rates. This added on-site housing should also mitigate traffic impacts from growth. These efforts complement our ongoing work to address the issue, including the Catalyst Housing Fund for affordable housing we established in partnership with community groups to fund affordable housing for our local area. The fund was initiated last year with an initial investment of $18.5 million that we hope will grow.
The region’s failure to continue to invest in our transportation infrastructure alongside growth has led to congestion and delay. Willow Campus will be an opportunity to catalyze regional transit investment by providing planned density sufficient to support new east-west connections and a future transit center. We’re investing tens of millions of dollars to improve US101.
Construction will generate an array of jobs, and we’re planning to help local workers access those opportunities. The site will be developed in two phases designed to bring office, housing and retail online in tandem.
Our hope is to create a physical space that supports our community and builds on our existing programs. We’ve hosted tens of thousands of community members at farmers’ markets and events, and partnered with nonprofits like Rebuilding Together Peninsula to rehabilitate local homes. We’ve also enrolled local high school students from East Palo Alto, Belle Haven and Redwood City in our six-week summer internship program.
This is only the beginning. Going forward, we plan to continue to work closely with local leaders and community members to ensure Facebook’s presence is a benefit to the community. It’s one we’re lucky to call home.
Rendering of new Willow Campus supplied by Facebook