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Google Confirms Barge Is Planned Showroom For New Tech

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KPIX 5 hired a boat to get an up close view of a barge off Treasure Island believed to be a secret project by Google. (CBS)

KPIX 5 hired a boat to get an up close view of a barge off Treasure Island believed to be a secret project by Google. (CBS)

Allen-Martin_BIO-HEAD Allen Martin
Allen Martin anchors the KPIX 5 newscasts each weeknight at 5 and 6 pm...
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SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Google has confirmed plans to use a mysterious barge floating off Treasure Island to showcase new products, verifying previous reporting by KPIX 5.

A brief statement released Wednesday from the internet giant puts an end to weeks of speculation about the purpose of structures on two barges, the San Francisco Bay project and another off Portland, Maine.

The press statement read:

“Google Barge … A floating data center? A wild party boat? A barge housing the last remaining dinosaur? Sadly, none of the above. Although it’s still early days and things may change, we’re exploring using the barge as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology.”

Google did not respond to KPIX 5’s request for elaboration and clarification on the brief statement.

Previous reporting found that the four-story structure was to become an elaborate showroom designed as a marketing vehicle for Google Glass, the cutting-edge wearable computer the company has under development.

Sources told KPIX 5 that the barge plan involves elaborate showrooms and even a party deck. Speculation is that such a marketing center would allow Google to have a recognizable retail space that rivals Apple stores around the world.

Our sister publication, CNET, first widely broke news of the secret barge on October 25th. Their findings indicated that it could be used as a floating data center.

Up until now, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has claimed he didn’t know anything about the barge. Lee said Google has now extended an invitation.

“I have to admit, we have had a conversation with representatives of Google, to find out,” Lee said. “There is an invitation for me to visit, perhaps understand a little more what they’re doing. I might take that opportunity up.”

There is also the possibility of a second barge that could soon be under construction on Treasure Island. An empty and registered barge has been placed alongside the one that is already complete, with a ramp connecting the two.

Fencing has been moved from around the pier, to protect additional cargo containers and construction material that appears to match what is used on the nearly completed barge project.

While Google has confirmed plans for the barge, the tech giant could be in the hot seat over another issue. The head of International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 10 told KPIX 5 that Google may be in violation of its jurisdiction, if the company used nonunion workers to move the cargo containers.

“Any containerized cargo loaded or unloaded on the West Coast is under the jurisdiction of the Longshoreman’s union. Google has never contacted us about assembling the current barge,” said ILWU Local 10 President Mike Villeggiante.

There is also speculation that Google may tow the barges to Los Angeles to avoid strict environmental regulations in place to protect San Francisco Bay.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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