After reeling in more than $14.5 million worth of fees and public benefits from Facebook earlier this year, Menlo Park will get a chance to wring even more money from the social networking company in exchange for letting it continue to expand.
Before allowing Facebook to construct a new building and employ more than 2,000 people at the 22-acre West Campus site on Bayfront Expressway it bought from Tyco Electronics, the city intends to require a development agreement.
Such an agreement brought hundreds of millions of dollars in "public benefits" for the city when Facebook sought permission to add thousands of employees to its new headquarters at the corner of Bayfront Expressway and Willow Road.
"It would be a very similar process as with the East Campus," said Menlo Park Associate Planner Rachel Grossman. Although she did not know what kind of fees or benefits the city would seek through the development agreement, she said that under its below-market-rate law, Facebook would be expected to pay about $4.5 million toward affordable housing.
Eight weeks ago, Facebook real estate director John Tenanes submitted a development permit application with a promise to turn in more information this month "with the details necessary for the processing of the West Campus application and the negotiation of a development agreement, which again will be the vehicle for Facebook's delivery of public benefits to the community."
On Friday, Facebook
announced that it had hired renown architect Frank Gehry to design the new building on the West Campus.
In addition to a development agreement, the company will be seeking additional approvals for the West Campus project, including to remove 141 heritage trees and to exceed a zoning height restriction of 35 feet, Grossman said.
But this time no environmental impact report is likely to be needed, since the one approved in May by the Menlo Park City Council for the East Campus should apply for the West Campus as well. "We're not anticipating any new environmental impacts or challenges," she said.
The approval process for the West Campus will likely start in early 2013 and take about 30 weeks, Grossman said. Within that timeline, 75 days are being scheduled for city officials and Facebook representatives to hammer out a development agreement for the West Campus. The council could enter the discussions to signal what terms it would like to see in the deal, she said.
Facebook spokesman Slater Tow said it was too early for the company to comment on the benefits it might provide.
"We're continuing our negotiations with the city as we develop our new campus, and we hope to reach an agreement that will be beneficial to both parties," Tow wrote in an email Monday.
In its deal for the East Campus, Facebook agreed to pay more than $14.5 million in fees and public benefits over the next 14 years, including $500,000 to establish a community charitable foundation, internship and job training programs, and improvements to bike and pedestrian pathways.
The Gehry-designed plan for the West Campus envisions a long, single-story 433,555-square-foot office building for approximately 2,800 employees with a rooftop tree park, paved gathering and outdoor dining spaces, and an approximately half-mile walking path, according to a letter Tenanes submitted to Menlo Park on Monday.
Company founder Mark Zuckerberg posted on his Facebook page Friday that he was "excited" to work with Frank Gehry to create the new campus.
"The idea is to make the perfect engineering space: one giant room that fits thousands of people, all close enough to collaborate together. It will be the largest open floor plan in the world, but it will also have plenty of private, quiet spaces as well. The roof of the building will be a park that blends into the community with a long walking trail, a field and lots of places to sit. From the outside it will appear as if you're looking at a hill in nature," the 28-year-old wrote.
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