12/02/2013 07:43 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Google Barge Details Revealed, Might Not Fly With Local Authorities


Turns out “interactive space where people can learn about new technology” might just be Google jargon for retail store on a boat -- and that may not sit well with local authorities.

According to a confidential budget report obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, each of the three barges built by Turner Construction Co. at Treasure Island, Calif. is intended to be a “floating retail store” and will be docked in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. The vessels will likely house Google Glass, set to publicly launch next year, and any other technology the company plans to sell to consumers.

If the reports are accurate, Google’s unwillingness to reveal the barges as retail spaces could be because a “floating retail store” may be a hard sell to the authorities issuing permits to moor a barge for any length of time.

“A floating retail store that is not a bay-oriented enterprise would probably make a lot of jaws drop at a commission meeting," said Larry Goldzband of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission, adding that that Google has notified the commission of continued construction three times in the past six weeks but has not provided any details as to their intentions.

According to documents Google submitted to the Port of San Francisco revealed last month, the company promoted the mystery barges to the commission as “a curious and visually stunning” exhibition center with sails “reminiscent of fish fins.”

So was that just an artistic cover-up for a big, floating Google store dispensing Glass to the masses? In San Francisco, it’s up to the commission to decide, but it won’t issue any permits until Google volunteers more information.

"We have told them we don't want to wait a heck of a lot longer because ... the public needs to know what Google is doing," Goldzband said.



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