By Alexei Oreskovic
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - The commute may be getting a lot shorter for some of Facebook Inc's (FB.O) workers.
The online social networking company is investing in and helping to design a 394-unit housing development, complete with swimming pool, sports pub and a convenience store, that will be built one and a half miles down the road from its headquarters.
The apartments will provide a convenient housing option for some employees of Facebook, whose Menlo Park, California headquarters is the home base for more than half of its 5,500 workers. The rental units will be marketed to Facebook employees first, though anyone will be free to rent a unit.
The $120 million project is being undertaken by St. Anton Partners, with Facebook providing an undisclosed investment. Construction begins this month and is expected to be completed in 24 months, St. Anton Partners said earlier this week.
The housing complex will also feature 53 units reserved for low-income residents, and Facebook will subsidize the cost of 15 of those units, the company said.
For Internet companies, famous for creating workplaces with free on-site restaurants, laundry service and volleyball courts, the new development could mark another step in the constant race to win over potential recruits with attractive perks and benefits.
Slides with artistic renderings of the future complex depict a cluster of sleek, modern-looking buildings with expansive glass windows and rooftop terraces. Sandwiched between the 101 freeway and salt marshes, the housing complex will include everything from studio apartments to three-bedroom residences, many with views of the San Francisco Bay, said Peter Geremia, the co-owner of St. Anton Partners.
"One of the first things we did was have an all-hands workshop at Facebook with a number of their employees and their real estate staff," Geremia said. "We asked them what are some of the key things you want in your living arrangement after you're done working," he said.
In addition to recreational amenities such as gyms and pools, Geremia said, Facebook employees wanted an easy way to get to work without being stuck in traffic. Under a pending proposal, a bike path that leads directly from the apartments to Facebook's headquarters would be built. (Reporting by Alexei Oreskovic; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)