Social media giant Facebook announced on Friday that it will develop 1,500 housing units in Menlo Park, CA in an effort to ease some of the burden on the home supply for citizens in Silicon Valley. Of the units, 15% will be offered lower than market value, and Facebook is also building out a separate retail area as well.

The housing will come alongside an expansion of Facebook’s newly-christened Willow Campus, formerly known as Menlo Science & Technology Park. In addition to adding office space, Facebook will also be adding a neighborhood center with community services and retail space, the press release said.

The 125,000 square feet of retail space will be community-facing, and will include a grocery store and pharmacy.

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To get started on the project, Facebook will need to file its plan with the city of Menlo Park in July 2017. The review process will last at least two years before construction can begin in phases, according to a press release. The earliest projected date of completion for the grocery, retail, housing, and office areas is 2021. Other parts of the construction will each take an additional two years.

The tech industry has had a massive impact on housing prices in San Francisco and the surrounding areas. By offering housing at below market rates, Facebook could help offset that somewhat in Menlo Park.

While the housing in Menlo Park will be available to anyone, not only employees, it does beg the question as to whether or not Facebook could eventually offer it free, or at a subsidized rate, to potential employees as a bargaining chip in the hiring process.

Google recently committed some $30 million to build pre-fabricated housing for temporary employees. If trends like this continue, one must wonder if affordable housing will be the next benefit offered by tech giants in hope of attracting and retaining employees in major markets.

Another way that Facebook’s expansion plans could impact the area is in relaxing traffic. Having more employees live on campus means fewer commuters, and Facebook is also planning on investing “tens of millions of dollars” into improving US101, the release said.

Facebook is working with OMA New York on the project. A video rendering of the space can be viewed here.

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Facebook is developing plans to build 1,500 housing units and a new retail space in Menlo Park, CA, with some homes offered below market value.
  2. The housing will be offered to anyone, but one wonders if it could be used in a subsidized way to incentivize future employees.
  3. Facebook is also working to improve traffic in the areas, investing millions of dollars in US101 as well.