October 3, 2013
Facebook Building Luxury Company Town
Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
The concept of a “company town” isn’t usually one that is remembered fondly. While there have been some company-built communities that tried to encourage healthy lifestyles and productive workers, many railroad, lumber camps and coal mines created towns that were anything but a worker’s paradise.
Facebook is now seeking to take the concept of a company town into the 21st century with plans to build a $120 million, 294-unit housing community that would be within walking distance of its sprawling Menlo Park, California campus. Dubbed Anton Menlo, the 630,00 square-foot rental property will reportedly include everything from a sports bar to a doggy day care center. Other amenities will reportedly include a convenience store, bicycle repair shop, yoga facility, resort-style pool and spa and of course a rooftop deck.
While tech companies continue to look at new ways to lure – and more importantly keep – engineers, oftentimes with over-the-top perks and offices that often resemble playgrounds, Facebook isn’t doing this just in the name of employee retention.
“We’re certainly excited to have more housing options closer to campus, but we believe that people work at Facebook because what they do is rewarding and they believe in our mission,” a Facebook spokesperson told Yahoo! Finance.
Many employees had inquired about places to live near the corporate campus, and with a shortage of housing in Menlo Park and real estate prices skyrocketing in Silicon Valley, Facebook sought to fill a void.
Facebook’s plan seems to not be drawn from the company towns of a century ago, which were overbearing to workers. While it could seem that living in a Facebook-owned complex would mean workers are truly always at work, the truth is also that the new development could only house a maximum of about 10 percent of its Menlo Park employees.
To get the new complex off the ground, the social network has reportedly partnered with developer St. Anton Partners to build the 394-unit apartment building. CNET reported that this will include 35 studios, 208 one-bedroom units, 139 two-bedroom units and 12 three-bedroom units. Facebook is also subsidizing the cost of 15 of the units to allow for low-income housing. This is being done as part of the Below Market Rate Agreement with Menlo Park – and these units will be income restricted for 55 years, but will otherwise be indistinguishable from the market rate units at Anton Menlo.
“We’ve enjoyed partnering with Facebook to create new housing in Menlo Park,” St. Anton Partners co-founder and co-owner Steve Eggert told SBwire. “With the guidance of Facebook and its employees, we have designed a cutting-edge project that meets the needs and tastes of today’s sophisticated renters.”
“At over 630,000 sq. ft., this project is one of the largest new construction rental residential projects in the state. We’re pleased to bring it to where housing is needed most,” noted co-founder Peter Geremia.
While it is designed to allow Facebook staffers a place to live that is close to the office, it will be open to non-Facebook employees, which also suggests that if an employee lives there and leaves the company, he/she won’t be evicted.
Demolition of the existing buildings on the site is expected to begin later this month, and construction is expected to take about two years.