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Google might have to relocate its mystery barge

Heather Kelly, CNN
The four-story floating Google showroom in San Francisco Bay has run into permit problems.
The four-story floating Google showroom in San Francisco Bay has run into permit problems.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Google does not have the proper permits for its showroom barge, state says
  • The four-story structure is still under construction at Treasure Island in San Francisco Bay
  • The once mysterious barge has already delayed its opening due to inspections

(CNN) -- Google might need a find new home for its giant floating showroom in San Francisco Bay.

No, the company isn't the latest victim of skyrocketing Bay Area real estate costs. It seems Google is under fire from state authorities for not having the proper permits necessary to construct the barge in its current location. The four-story structure is housed at Treasure Island, a small piece of land between San Francisco and Oakland.

The barge rose to fame late last year as a delightful floating enigma in the San Francisco Bay. The vessel was originally spotted by a CNET reporter and Google would not comment on its purpose. People had great fun speculating about the barge, guessing that it was a floating data center, a Google Glass shop or a luxury event space.

It was dubbed the Google Mystery Barge.

Eventually, Google killed the mystery, and some of the fun, by announcing the structure was going to be an "interactive space where people can learn about new technology."

But shortly after the story picked up steam, Google hit pause on construction of the barge. The U.S. Coast Guard inspected the structure and the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) announced it was meeting with Google about the matter in December. The opening date for the barge was delayed until late 2014, according to CNET, and the boat sat idle in its Treasure Island home.

This week, the BCDC officially notified The Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA) that it did not have the necessary permits to construct and lodge any ships at the pier where the Google barge is currently moored. TIDA manages the island on behalf of the city of San Francisco.

"We are asking TIDA to work with us so that the necessary permits can be applied for and completed to enable lawful activities to be undertaken at the site in the future (perhaps including shipbuilding and repair)," said Larry Goldzband, executive director of the BCDC.

That means that for now, Treasure Island must relocate the Google ship to another shipbuilding facility in order to comply with state law. To get its paperwork into ship shape, Google will also have to get the proper permits from the BCDC to moor its marketing vessel in an approved area in San Francisco Bay, one that is already permitted to do this type of construction.

"We just received the letter from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission and we are reviewing it," said a Google spokesperson in an e-mail.

Now the biggest mystery is when, if ever, the project will be finished and open its doors to the public.

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