REAL-LIFE FACEBOOK TOWN: A SOCIAL COMMUNITY IN THE WORKS

Oh, Facebook. What an evil, brilliant, wild invention you are – the startup that shook the world from the comfort of its college dorm room beginnings. Little did we know when Facebook first shimmered across our screens that it would become a staple – much like a morning cup of Joe or checking the mail, we would adapt to seeing what everyone we’ve ever been even mild acquaintances with is up to nowadays.

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For those in the tech world (or even admiring bystanders), Facebook is still a gleaming end all, be all example of what a startup can become. Everyone’s heard urban legends of the perks available to Facebook employees – sabbaticals, free lunches, 4 months of maternity and/or paternity leave…and the quest to take over the world in the most cool, nonchalant way possible is certainly not ending anytime soon. Recently, Facebook announced plans to crack the code of real estate. Say what?

The company is actively working to turn land in Menlo Park, California into a “mixed-use village” – aka Facebook’s very own town. According to Mashable, the village blueprints include things you would expect to find in pretty much any other town: a grocery store, a pharmacy, housing, office space, and more. The project is called Willow Campus, and was dreamt up in order to help the company aid its employees in fighting the area’s housing issues such as sky high rents that lead to far out living circumstances and commutes that are easily over an hour in length. Of course, for the creators of perhaps the most spell-binding community ever, this is simply a hurdle in their path. Rather than huff and puff and wait for a solution to appear, they will create a real-life community – a solution all their own.

The site for the project is set on 56 acres, which sits directly across from the business’ headquarters. It was bought by Facebook back in 2015 for roughly $400 million. If all goes according to plan, that land will be flipped and transformed into 1.6 million square feet of housing spread out over about 1,500 units. John Tenanes, Facebook’s VP for global facilities, said this about the project:

“Our goal for the Willow Campus is to create an integrated, mixed-use village that will provide much-needed services, housing, and transit solutions as well as office space. Part of our vision is to create a neighborhood centre that provides long-needed community services. The region’s failure to continue to invest in our transport and infrastructure alongside growth has led to congestion and delay.”

The area’s problems with traffic and housing have not flown under the radar. The average rent in Menlo Park has tripled over the last 6 years to sit at a shocking $3,349/per month –a good deal higher than other notorious markets such as NYC or London. The project will take a decade to build and has yet to receive the official go-ahead from necessary parties outside of Facebook. The first phase will hopefully be completed by 2021, including the housing and grocery stores. Other phases will follow, eventually even including a hotel.

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The majority of housing in Facebook-town, will of course go to Facebook employees. However, Facebook will open some of the housing up to the greater community. There will be a collective mix of both market-priced and affordable housing units, with 15% planned to be offered below market rates.

Obviously, Facebook world domination is merely a work in progress — pay attention, folks. Poke. Poke.

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