It's official (kind of): the mysterious Google barges are...floating retail stores.
SFGate recently got a look at a confidential budget report, in which Turner Construction explained the layout of Google's three barges and that they'll eventually be docked in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York.
The barges are a part of a secretive $35 million project called Hangar 3 (that's a reference to the Treasure Island hangar in San Francisco where these structures are being built), and each barge is intended to be floating retail store featuring 80 stacked shipping containers and rows of sails.
Mirian Saez, Treasure Island Development Authority director of operations, told SFGate that Google representatives had said the barges would be an "important opportunity for the launching" Google Glass in 2014.
Google has admitted only that the barges will be used as an interactive space where people can learn about new technology, though the company also described them as a "studio" and "temporary technology exhibit space" in a permit pitch submitted to the Port of San Francisco.
Such vagueness surrounding the Google barges is probably because Google needs a permit from the regional Bay Conservation and Development Commission to build them. If Google builds a barge in the San Francisco Bay area that's not intended solely for the Bay, the company could face some political heat locally.
"A floating retail store that is not a bay-oriented enterprise would probably make a lot of jaws drop at a commission meeting," Larry Goldzband, a commission executive, told SFGate when showed the leaked Turner Construction document.
Previous reports have said Google's barges will house dazzling showrooms outfitted with chrome features and floor lighting, party decks, interchangeable shipping containers to create new spaces for Google X events, and the list goes on.
With this type of set-up, if true, Google will surely draw attention and consumers to its floating retail stores. This also means lots of eyes on Google and products like Glass, as well as fewer eyes on, let's say, Apple's Fifth Avenue store in New York and iPhone 5S.
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