Corporate Housing as Community Solution

In Menlo Park, CA, housing constraints and traffic congestion have led Facebook to take on an economic development project that will create a 10-acre housing development including businesses to serve the community. Our take on the initiative inside.


What Happened?

Facebook recently allocated $120 million to fund a 10-acre housing development in Menlo Park, California, right down the street from its corporate headquarters. The housing project is expected to be completed in 2016, and will provide convenient, local living accommodations for the social network’s employees.

The Goal

Many large employers are finding unique ways to pass on perks to employees to boost morale, performance and loyalty. Facebook has decided to increase accessibility and convenience for its employees, by providing housing options close to the office to reduce commute times or the need for car transport to and from work. The residential community will comprise of 394 units in a mixed-use development, the Atlantic Cities reported.

Facebook is working with St. Anton Partners developers firm to create the housing option, as the company demonstrated interest in the “live close to work” inspiration. Facebook has formulated the project after conducting a series of focus groups and electronic surveys to collect employee feedback, desires and needs before finalizing any amenity projects. The intelligence gathering revealed the social network’s employees would benefit greatly from a variety of features within the campus including:

  • Convenience store
  • Sports pub
  • Dog daycare
  • Bicycle repair shop
  • Internet-friendly café

While it may seem like the Facebook Company Town is a bit over the top, experts argue the development would reduce traffic congestion and address the housing strain in Menlo Park that has thrown the property/jobs ratio off balance. As part of its bid to Menlo Park for a housing element update, Facebook has created a bus stop outside of its corporate doors, and is in the process of adding a bike lane to local streets to increase access for alternate forms of transportation for employees.

Finding A Solution

Facebook employees unable to find affordable housing closer to work may have been the main factor triggering the housing push by the social network. DataQuick revealed the Bay Area’s real estate prices increased 24 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012, as housing inventory continued to dwindle.

While some of the housing units will be designed and priced as luxury apartments, others will be set aside as low-income options to provide a wide price range. Facebook has decided to also leave 15 units open for renters who do not work for the social network to create some diversity in the development. Facebook wants to make the community feel like a college campus, where employees can share ideas and interact socially outside of business hours.

According to Time, providing employees with an opportunity to work close to home not only shortens commute times, but increases productivity and job satisfaction. Furthermore, having cars on the road for less time, or less cars overall, will help lower transport-related emissions.

Welcome Home

Gov1 has reported on a variety of housing initiatives municipalities have launched to reduce the need for residents to own or use a car daily, as well as increase pedestrian traffic through the community.

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