Sometime in the near future, folks will be able to sip a martini at a Facebook bar, eat a steak at a Facebook restaurant and fluff up their nighttime pillows at a Facebook hotel.
That’s because on Tuesday night, the Menlo Park City Council unanimously approved a Facebook expansion which includes the social media giant’s first hotel on campus, and possibly the first tech company in Silicon Valley to build such a creation.
City leaders think it's great.
“The hotel creates a huge windfall for the city,” Mayor Richard Cline told NBC Bay Area on Wednesday. “We don’t have that many hotels in the city. And Facebook has given us a baseline guarantee $1.25 million a year in hotel taxes.”
A total of 28 speakers came out to the meeting, and as Cline recounts, only “two or three” were negative. Those critics, he said, thought the impact of the campus would be too big, and they were worried about people getting displaced. As a result, Cline said the council told the company to really emphasize building affordable housing for lower income people who shouldn’t be pushed out of Silicon Valley.
In 2015, Facebook’s real estate arm, Hibiscus Properties, LLC, submitted a proposal to the city, applying to demolish two buildings on campus and create two new ones, encompassing about 960,000 square feet, complete with tree parks on the roofs. Plus, Facebook submitted plans to build a 200-room hotel for the public, including a restaurant and bar. All of that was approved 5-0 at Tuesday's council meeting.
Cline said in addition to hotel taxes, he thought the Facebook hotel on Chilco Street near the Bayfront Expressway would actually help ease traffic congestion in the city, especially if Facebook visitors stay on campus and don’t need to drive across town.
Facebook has not yet hired a company to design the project and there were no immediate visuals provided to the city on what the space would look like. When the hotel will actually be finished has not yet been determined, as no construction has yet to take place. A Facebook spokesman did not have a specific comment on the hotel project. He also wanted to clarify that Facebook is seeking a "strong partner that could develop and manage" the hotel.
But he did offer a statement via email by John Tenanes, Facebook's vice president of global facilities and real estate: “We are with pleased with the City Council’s decision to approve our expansion project, which will revitalize a once-isolated industrial site into a multi-functional space for both Facebook and all community members. Menlo Park has been our home since 2011, and we’re invested in its preservation and enhancement. We will continue to partner with the community to ensure it remains a great place to live and work.”
The council also approved a plan to include a new bike and pedestrian bridge and a two-acre public park.