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Report: Google 'close' to finalizing lease for first flagship retail store

Remember the Google Barge?

Google has launched pop-up stores like this one in NYC, but not -- to our knowledge -- a real competitor to the Apple Store.
Scott Stein/CNET

The Apple Store is iconic. Microsoft, Samsung, and Razer have a smattering of stores too. And now, the Chicago Tribune reports that maybe -- just maybe -- Google will finally get in on the brick-and-mortar retail game, too.

According to the publication, Google is planning to open a two-story, 14,000-square-foot retail flagship store in Chicago's Fulton Market district, and is close to finalizing a lease.

The store will reportedly be located between 845 and 853 W. Randolph Street -- in other words, right here:

Third storefront from the right has a "Retail Space" sign right in the window.

Google Maps/Screenshot by CNET

As you can see, the reported store location is really, really close to Google's Chicago headquarters:

Google Maps/Screenshot by CNET

The Tribune says Google's presence has already "played a major role" in turning Fulton Market into a more upscale neighorhood.  

"We don't comment on rumors or speculation," Google told CNET, when asked about the building.

If the store doesn't happen, though, we wouldn't be that surprised -- as Ars Technica notes, Google has canceled plans for a store at least twice before, including the company's infamous Google Barge that mysteriously popped up in the San Francisco Bay in 2013 and 2014:

That said, Google has recently tried one-off pop-up stores like this one in New York City: