October 27, 2013 - The U.S. Navy had its share of secrets on Treasure Island, but few were better kept than whatâ€™s taking place on a mysterious barge
just off the island.
The barge, with a four-story stack of shipping containers, is out in the open for all to see. But the projectâ€™s purpose has been kept under wraps, and virtually no one wants to talk about it for the record, from the harbor office at Clipper Cove to the Treasure Island
Development Authority to the U.S. Coast Guard.
â€śI donâ€™t know anything about it, honestly I donâ€™t,â€ť a voice on the intercom at the Clipper Cove told KPIX 5. â€śItâ€™s a complete mystery to me.â€ť
There has, of course, been speculation about the bargeâ€™s purpose, much of it centering on the belief that itâ€™s a water-based data center for Google.
KPIX 5 has learned that Google
is actually building a floating marketing center, a kind of giant Apple store, if you will â€” but for Google
Glass, the cutting-edge wearable computer the company has under development.
wouldnâ€™t respond to requests for comment for this story, sources close to the project told KPIX 5 that Google
hopes to tow the completed structure from Treasure Island across the Bay to San Franciscoâ€™s Fort Mason, where it would be anchored and open to the public.
But as mysteriously as the barge-and-container structure began appearing several months ago, work on the project suddenly stopped a few weeks ago.
The reason: Google
does not have a permit for a floating anything.
has spent millions on this,â€ť said an insider close to the San Francisco
Bay Conservation and Development Commission. â€śBut they canâ€™t park this barge on the waterfront without a permit, and they donâ€™t have one.â€ť
A BCDC official confirmed the agency has held discussions with Google
about â€śhypothetical operationsâ€ť on the water, but he complained the tech giant has been vague about how the barge would be used.
Larry Goldzband, BCDC executive director, said Google
is free to build whatever it wants but the company needs to define the structureâ€™s purpose if it wants a permit.
And thatâ€™s not the only hurdle Google
faces in its quest for a permit. Docking the barge for an extended period of time at Fort Mason
would qualify as â€śbay fill,â€ť said a source with long experience in waterfront issues.
â€śThe law is crystal clear in this case: The Bay is not to be used for something that can be built on land,â€ť Goldzband said.
Further complicating the picture for Google, the BCDC is already facing heat over the plan to build a new waterfront arena for the Golden State Warriors. Although the arena would be built on existing Piers 30 and 32, the piers would have to be enlarged to accommodate the structure.
â€śGiven that controversy, itâ€™s not at all certain that BCDC approves the Google
structure,â€ť the waterfront expert said. â€śThey may end up with egg on their face and a lot of money lost in the drink.â€ť