Google reportedly getting out of barge business in Maine

Google may be selling its would-be floating showroom in Maine to an international barge company. But the Google Barge in California still sits idle.

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The Google Barge, when it was moored in San Francisco Bay. Google may be selling a nearly identical barge in Portland, Maine. Josh Miller/CNET

Google may be getting out of the barge business, at least in Maine.

According to a report Thursday in the Portland Press Herald, the search giant may be selling -- or already has sold -- its giant barge in Portland, Maine, to an unknown "international barge company."

Roger Hale, owner of Turners Island cargo terminal in South Portland, told the Press Herald that the Google Barge there had been sold, and is being readied for an "ocean voyage." The paper reported that the barge would be on the move from the port city within days.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and Hale did not immediately return a CNET phone call.

Last October, CNET was first to report Google's connection to what, at the time, was a mysterious barge-like structure moored alongside Treasure Island in the San Francisco Bay, as well as the company's ties to a similar structure in Maine. The so-called Google Barges were intended to become floating showrooms, according to documents the company filed with the Port of San Francisco. For months, the Google Barge in San Francisco Bay sat idle and unfinished.

But after the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission told Google it either had to get a permit to finish construction of the barge project on Treasure Island, move it somewhere else, or start paying fines of up to $30,000, it decided to move the structure to Stockton, Calif.

But since that move, in early March, the barge has continued to sit idle. On Thursday, Richard Aschieris, the director of the Port of Stockton, told CNET nothing has changed since the move, but that Google has continued to pay docking fees.

In Portland, however, where that city's Google Barge had also remained idle and unfinished since it arrived in early October, 2013, it appears Google's payments will soon end. The Press Herald reported that Portland "did collect $400,000 in personal property taxes...based on the $40 million assessed value of the barge [and that] the city stood to collect another $400,000 in tax revenue next April 1. But, now that it appears the barge may be leaving, the city may be out of luck."

 

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