Facebook Is Building Its Own ‘Resort-Inspired’ Factory Town

Facebook Is Building Its Own ‘Resort-Inspired’ Factory Town

Facebook is dipping its big blue thumb into the real estate market, investing in a cushy 394-unit apartment complex that’s a 45-minute walk to its new Frank Gehry-designed Menlo Park campus.

The $US120 million Anton Menlo will be designed by architects at KTGY Group in a partnership with St. Anton Developers (hence the name) and offer a mix of studios and one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments on a 10-acre site. KTGY’s Keith Labus tells the San Francisco Chronicle the “resort-inspired” complex will have “everything the young professional could want to complement their busy lifestyle.” Amenities include a pool, rooftop deck, communal kitchen, bodega, bar, bike repair shop, yoga room, personal trainer, dog day care and a pet spa. A PET SPA, you guys!

This all sounds eerily similar to HomeTown, the dorms of a Facebook-like company in Dave Eggers’ new novel The Circle, which was excerpted in the New York Times Magazine last weekend (and is also facing claims that Eggers lifted the story from an ex-Facebook memoirist):

She felt a profound sense of accomplishment and possibility that was accompanied, in short order, by a near-complete sense of exhaustion. It was almost midnight, and she needed sleep. It was too late to go all the way home, so she checked the dorm availability, reserved one, got her access code, walked across campus and into HomeTown.

When she closed the door to her room, she felt like a fool for not taking advantage of the dorms sooner. The room was immaculate, awash in silver fixtures and blond woods, the floors warm from radiant heat, the sheets and pillowcases so white and crisp they crackled when touched. The mattress, explained a card next to the bed, was organic, made not with springs or foam but instead a new fibre that Mae found was both firmer and more pliant — superior to any bed she’d ever known. She pulled the blanket, cloud-white and full of down, around her.

The Facebook apartments, while not officially The Facebook Apartments, are part of a new wave of factory towns where corporations are striving to build attractive housing for employees while also improving the community immediately surrounding their headquarters. Both IKEA (above) and Tesco are building neighborhoods in the UK, and Google has invested in an apartment complex near its Mountain View headquarters. The Google apartments were also designed by KTGY, and if we hop over to their Facebook profile (because we must), we can see they have plenty of other residential projects under construction near tech companies in Sunnyvale, San Jose and Santa Monica.

To add to the local-improvement vibes in Menlo Park, the city required that Facebook pay for 15 units reserved for low-income tenants, and the developer is adding 38 more — all of which I assume will not be occupied by Facebook employees. That should be really fun for those people.

It’s a smart move by Facebook to keep its employees cozy and close, and in the long run it may be a better investment to build amenity-rich complexes rather than spend the money to shuttle San Francisco residents to Silicon Valley every day. But will a pet spa be enough to lure a Mission-dwelling designer to Menlo Park? Rents are cataclysmically high in San Francisco right now. Maybe if the price is right.