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New report says Google's mystery barges are 'floating retail stores' that cost $35 million

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google barge
google barge

It's been a bit over a month since we first got word that Google was building barges at San Francisco's Treasure Island, and since there's been a wide variety of speculation as to just what the company is up to. A new report from SFGate claims that the $35 million project, code-named Hanger 3, will consist of three "floating retail stores" that will be docked in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City. These details come from a budget report for Turner Construction Co., who is apparently behind the construction. For its part, Google has reiterated its earlier statement that the barges will be "an interactive space where people can learn about new technology."

The report also backs up a number of other details that have emerged in the last month. We reported earlier that one of the barges would be docked at San Francisco's Fort Point — and while the SFGate report didn't mention a specific location, it did indicate that one of the barges will indeed be docked in San Francisco. It also confirms earlier reports that the barges would combine shipping containers flanked by sails. The documents obtained from Turner Construction confirm that the structures will be stacked with 80 shipping containers with sails on either side.

The description of these barges as a "floating retail store" could cause Google some trouble. "A floating retail store that is not a bay-oriented enterprise would probably make a lot of jaws drop at a commission meeting," said Bay Conservation and Development Commission executive Larry Goldzband. Google needs a permit from the commission in order to moor its barge for any substantial length of time in San Francisco. Goldzband also confirmed that while Google has informed the commission that it continues to built, the company still hasn't been forthcoming about exactly what it is making. "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.