TREASURE ISLAND (KPIX 5) – You were likely fast asleep as Google began moving the mystery barge from the San Francisco Bay early Thursday, towing it up the Sacramento River Delta to Stockton.
The project was carried out under a shroud of secrecy until last fall, when KPIX 5 was first to break news that the floating structure is actually a marketing tool for the company’s Google Glass and other gadgets to invitation-only clients. Overnight, the station’s cameras captured the barge as it made it’s slow journey out of the bay. Last week, KPIX 5 was also first to confirm the destination was Stockton.
The State of California ordered the move because the tech giant didn’t have the proper permits to stay. The structure had been docked at Treasure Island for months.
In November, KPIX 5 acquired design documents through a Freedom of Information Act request. The records describe the tech giant’s barge as an “unprecedented artistic structure” that would “drive visitation to the waterfront.” Now it will have to call a different waterfront home, at least in the short term.
“This doesn’t happen everyday. It’s amazing the amount of attention. Like I said earlier, this probably the [most] well-known vessel on West Coast,” said Richard Aschieris, the Port of Stockton Director Richard.
Aschieris had earlier this week that the port had not been contacted by Google, but he got confirmation of his new tenant at 2 a.m. He said Google will be charged the standard fee of about $10,000 to 12,000 a month.
“The Google Barge would just be awesome, plain and simple,” Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva said prior to the confirmation. He hopes the vessel will be a job-creator.
The city made headlines two years ago, when it became the largest city at that point to declare bankruptcy.
The floating, 50-foot tall behemoth is made of recycled shipping containers, and will sport decorative sails designed to look like fish fins when it is finished.
Artistic renderings of the vessel revealed catwalks throughout and a fourth-floor deck that was expected to offer unique views of the San Francisco skyline.
The public records show that the project has been planned for more than one year, from November 2013 to November 2014. Google had planned to dock the barge for a month at a time at a number of different locations around the bay.
Now that the structure has been removed from the bay, a timeline for completion and opening have again become a mystery.
A Google spokesperson sent this statement to KPIX 5, “”It’s been a busy six months for our barge and it’s grown tired of all the attention, so we are moving it to Stockton where it can have a break, enjoy the city’s delicious asparagus and warmer climate, and get a bit of rest before its next chapter.”
The barge arrived in Stockton shortly before 10 a.m. Thursday.
Aschieris says the permitting process will likely be easier in Stockton.
“In Stockton, this is activity for us is very typical. It’s not, from out perspective, it’s not different from what we normally do,” he said.
The Port of Stockton was the location where a number of segments of the new Bay Bridge eastern span were cast.