Gordon Smith

Likesville: Facebook’s Affordable Metropolis

The minds at Facebook have decided to construct a real village replete with retail stores and reduced mortgages. Sounds Presidential to me.

 

If you’ve used a computer in the past year, have access to a mobile phone, glanced at your family television, or even just happened to have existed at any point in recent history, chances are you’ve heard of the online juggernaut Facebook. The social media monster hosts billions of users – as you are reminded on the odd chance you aren’t already signed into the service – and may be the closest thing to a home people could find on The World Wide Web.

Think about it, where else in the real world would you feel comfortable enough to slap up thousands of your mundane holiday snaps, spin tales of questionable legitimacy about your adorable pet and/or child’s wacky antics, and spew racial obscenities with such earnest vigor and poor grammar?

But, try as you may, no matter how hard you press your skull into your preferred device’s display, your online home will remain as online as can be. Facebook may accommodate your mind, but your body is staying put.

At least, for now anyway.

Zuckerburg’s homunculus is looking to build its very own town, complete with housing, retail stores, and its corporate headquarters. The real estate epiphany was unveiled recently, based at Facebook’s Menlo Park, California corporate campus. The 56-acre site, which the company bought in 2015 for about US $400 million, is located directly across the street from the company’s headquarters. The site will offer 1.6 million square feet of housing.

In a post, Facebook described the development as a “mixed-use village” that it believes will provide residents with housing, transportation services, and other amenities. Many of the residents will be Facebook’s own flock. Retailers are set to include a grocery store and a pharmacy, in addition to other outlets. A hotel is also in the works.

The little-village-that-could will take roughly a decade to build according to a person familiar with the plans. The project’s initial phase, including its housing and grocery store, is set to be completed in the first half of 2021. Subsequent phases will then be completed every two years.

Although most of the housing will be occupied by Facebook’s own employees, the online juggernaut will throw open the mortgaged doors to the community at large with a mix of market rate and affordable housing units. 225 of the units – representing 15% in total – will be priced below market.

As Facebook puts it in a faceless blog post, part of their vision is to “create a neighborhood center that provides long-needed community services.” With employees living so close to campus, the company expects a reduction of traffic in the area.

Despite all the buzzwords, the suburban sprawl has not yet been approved by the City of Menlo Park. Facebook has presented its plans and expects the approval process to take about two years.

Still, if you really do wish your frantically Facebooking friends could pack up and take their constant blogging with them, there may well be somewhere for them to go.

 

Gordon Smith

Journalist by day, cunning linguist by night. A passion for politics, hypnotically involved in human rights. An Australian born with a Japanese tongue, hoping to hold the bigwigs in government to account.

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