October 28, 2013
Google’s Mysterious Barge In San Francisco Bay Runs Into Permit Troubles
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Though they’re not talking about it, a mysterious floating barge being built off Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay is rumored to belong to Google. Whereas previously it had been rumored to be a new water-bound data center for the search giant, a source close to the project told a local news source that the barge will be used as a massive, floating marketing center for Google Glass, Google’s Internet-connected spectacles.
Construction on the barge began earlier this year, but according to news station KPIX 5, construction has stopped because Google doesn’t have the correct permits. Though they’ve reportedly spent millions on the project already, the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) is enforcing a law which prohibits the development of any structure on the Bay unless that structure’s purpose cannot be fulfilled on land. Google is keeping quiet about their plans and so far has not explained what they’ll be doing with the barge, assuming that they are, in fact, the owners of the massive four-story floating structure after all.
“I don’t know anything about it, honestly I don’t,” explained an unnamed individual who works at the cove where the structure is being built. "It's a complete mystery to me."
Though Google has before applied for a patent which would allow them to operate a sea bound data center, a source close to Google’s plans say the company instead intends to use it as a floating marketing ploy to drum up publicity for Google Glass. The company is expected to begin shipping the first commercial units of these 'smart glasses' to the public by the end of the year. If the barge is to be used as a marketing center, or a floating Apple-type store, it’s expected Google will have the structure floated to the other end of the bay to Fort Mason where it will be opened to the public.
While this may be their plan, the BCDC is halting construction until Google decides to divulge exactly what their plans are for the barge.
“Google has spent millions on this,” said a source close to the BCDC. “But they can’t park this barge on the waterfront without a permit, and they don’t have one.”
“The law is crystal clear in this case: The Bay is not to be used for something that can be built on land,” explained Larry Goldzband, BCDC executive director.
Google, the company which prides itself on 'openness' is acting more like its rival Apple, which prides itself on secrecy. While Google may be running into issues with the city government for their construction projects, Apple was recently granted final approval by the city of Cupertino, California to build their 2.8-million-square-foot rounded-glass campus which, according to late co-founder Steve Jobs, looks “a little like a spaceship landed.”