Facebook to build its own town

Facebook is considering building its own small town so employees never have to leave work.

New plans for the campus in Menlo Park include a $120 million, 394-unit housing community within walking distance of its offices. Called Anton Menlo, the 630,000 square-foot rental property will include a sports bar to a day care for pet dogs.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the move towards a 24 hour work lifestyle is new, even for Silicon Valley.

Facebook insists that employee retention isn’t a major factor in the cunning plan. It’s a good idea to have more housing options closer to campus, and people will want to live in it because “what they do is rewarding and they believe in our mission”, Facebook reckons.

There will be lots of amenities on the site, such as cafes, a store, a sports pub, bike repair shop with onsite storage, pool, spas, and gyms.

The development will fix some of Facebook’s accommodation problems for workers.  There is a housing shortage in Menlo Park and some employees found it difficult to find places to stay near the corporate campus.

In many ways the move is turning the clock back.  The US had “company towns” at the turn of the 20th century. American factory workers lived in communities owned by their employer and were provided housing, health care, law enforcement, church and just about every other service necessary.

The downside is that your life becomes the company. The 20th century company towns died out because they were too oppressive for workers.

The 2013 flavour will mean that employees will always be working. Only 10 percent of Facebook’s Menlo Park employees will be housed on-site, and we guess there will not be too many families.

The apartments will go for market rates and some will be set aside for low-income staff.