- Facebook has filed more than $900 million in construction permits in and around its San Francisco Bay-area "West Campus" in Menlo Park, according to consultancy BuildZoom. The combined permit values of its "MPK 20" building and several planned projects exceed $1 billion.
- Permits valued at over $300 million were issued last year for the Frank Gehry-designed MPK 21 project, a 523,000-square-foot addition to MPK 20 that's larger than the existing, 433,000-square-foot facility, also designed by Gehry. Another $303 million in permits have been filed for MPK 22, a Gehry-designed, freestanding office facility. Other upcoming projects include an eight-story parking structure, a renovated warehouse and a skywalk connecting some of the buildings with bayfront access for pedestrians and cyclists.
- In addition to the Menlo Park projects, Facebook reportedly bought three office facilities located within Bohannon Cos.’ planned Menlo Gateway development just west of the campus, and is set to begin construction next year on the mixed-used Willow Village.
When Facebook unveiled plans for the Menlo Park campus development last year, some city officials and community members expressed concern about the impact that adding an estimated 6,550 jobs would have on the area’s traffic and home prices.
In order to gain 20-year development rights and a waiver to height limitations at the site, Facebook agreed to pay the city several million dollars to fund city services and road and infrastructure improvements. As part of the package, the company will pay $430,000 in rent subsidies for “community-serving” professionals like teachers and law enforcement personnel, a $6.3 million affordable housing fee and a $300,000 annual payment to the city for 20 years, among other measures.
Other cities are requiring corporate giants to fund public initiatives. Seattle is levying corporate taxes for social programs on an even larger scale. This week, the city council unanimously passed a head tax on employees of companies that generate over $20 million in revenue, to fund housing and programs for the homeless. Amazon, Facebook, Starbucks and roughly 582 other employers will pay about $275 per full-time employee for an annual revenue of $47 million, CNN reported.
Nevertheless, Amazon vice president Drew Herdener slammed the measure as being hostile to big businesses and restrictive to growth. The retail giant halted construction on a 17-story downtown tower last week in retaliation to the proposal.