Normally the lot would not be suited for housing, for reasons made clear by Steven Bitler, who told the commission he works at Landec next door to the site. "Every year, the streets in that area flood," he said. "We send people home early on the days we know it's going to flood so they are able to drive their car out."
And there's another problem. "It's odor that comes from the landfill at the end of Marsh Road," he said.
Those issues are unlikely to derail the project, which awaits only a final approval from the community development director, which is likely to happen soon and allow the project to accept residents within two years.
The street flooding has been a long-term problem and will be worked out with the adjacent city and county jurisdictions, said Deanna Chow, a senior planner for the city assigned to the project. She said the project itself will be built higher to avoid flooding.
And as for the smell, she told CNBC, it may actually be coming from the nearby salt marshes, since the landfill is now covered over and has been converted into Bedwell Bayfront Park.
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The new apartment complex will cover 9.69 acres and include 35 studios, 208 one-bedrooms, 139 two-bedrooms and 12 three-bedroom residences. The developer, St. Anton, is based in Northern California and builds and operates more than 6,500 apartments in the state.
When Facebook obtained permission to build its headquarters in Menlo Park, it was with a stipulation that it help build 15 affordable housing units or pay the city a $4.5 million fee that could be used toward other affordable housing efforts.
By coming to an agreement with St. Anton for those 15 units, the company now has a large complex located less than two miles from the headquarters via a bike path.
Facebook has about 5,200 employees, with about half working at the headquarters, a company spokesperson told CNBC. Many drive to work, but there are also free company shuttles that fan out over the Bay Area as well as Caltrain passes for some workers.
While the nearby Anton Menlo project will help, it will be open to anyone who can afford to live there, not just Facebook employees.
Asked by the Menlo Park Planning Commission how much the units will rent for, Zahedani said it was extremely difficult to find any units nearby to determine the market rate. "There aren't any apartments around that have been built in the last 20 years in Menlo Park," he said.
In an email to CNBC, Zahedani talked pricing: "We're creating a new highly amenitized community in an area without housing, so it's difficult to gauge future rents since there are no comparables. Older projects in nearby cities are getting in the high $2.75-per-foot range."
If that range holds, the market-rate Anton Menlo apartments near the Facebook headquarters would rent for $1,548 for a studio; $1,812 to $2,414 for a one bedroom; $2,571 to $3,418 for a two bedroom; and $4,259 for a three bedroom.
For comparison, the median sale price for a single-family home in the county was $960,000 as of June, according to the county of San Mateo Department of Housing & Community Development.
Facebook's action was applauded by Richard Marcantonio, the managing attorney at Public Advocates, which took part in a suit to compel Menlo Park to comply with state affordable housing laws.