Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Treasure Island mystery barge is the first of three being built by Google: Report

More information is leaking out about the mysterious Google barges seen on both coasts (1, 2). According to a confidential budget report obtained by the San Francisco Chronicle, the Treasure Island barge is actually the first of three.

According to the Chronicle, the report came via barge manufacturer Turner Construction Co. and says the project will build the vessels at Treasure Island, then dock them in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. The Turner Construction report also says each barge is intended to be used as a "floating retail store." Each barge is to be "stacked with 80 shipping containers and flanked by rows of sails."

Still highly secret -- the project is so hush-hush it reminds us of the secrecy that surrounds Apple projects -- it is code-named Hangar 3. That moniker is an apparent reference to the Treasure Island location where the construction is being done.

No comment has been forthcoming from Google, but nMirian Saez, the Treasure Island Development Authority director of operations, said that Google told her that "this (the barge(s)) would be an important opportunity for the launching" of their Google Glass wearable computing device in 2014.

Regional Bay Conservation and Development Commission executive Larry Goldzband, when told of the details by the Chronical, said that: "A floating retail store that is not a bay-oriented enterprise would probably make a lot of jaws drop at a commission meeting" -- and not necessarily in a good way.

To this point, Google has not told the commission what they are doing. Google needs a permit from the commission to moor a barge for any length of time in San Francisco Bay.

Goldsband added that although Google's legal team has notified him three times in the past six weeks that the company is continuing its barge construction at Treasure Island, it has not revealed its intentions. "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.

It's unclear if -- when Google comes forward with the details and addresses the commission -- that all will be accepted as is. Goldzband said, "The commission is going to ask, 'Is there an alternative (land) location for this program to occur?' If there is, then the commission is going to have a very difficult time convincing the public there should be something happening on the bay."

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