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Google scraps ambitious, high-tech barge project in Portland

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 (REUTERS/Francois Lenoir)

Google has reportedly sold the massive barge moored in Portland Harbor, which would have eventually become a high-tech, floating showroom. The project has been attracting news since 2013, and was eventually revealed to be the site of an “interactive space where people would learn about new technology.” This vague, but enticing, description made us pretty excited about Google’s barge.

Sadly though, the project has come to an abrupt end, according to the Portland Press Herald. Earlier this week, tugboats pulled the vessel from its prime spot to a cargo terminal at Turner’s Island, South Portland. The terminal’s owner told the paper an “international barging company” had purchased it, and that it was being sent on a long voyage, but wouldn’t say where.

The 63 storage containers on top of the barge, which created the four-story structure that would eventually house Google’s guests, will be dismantled and scrapped. Apparently, the company tasked with designing and fitting the futuristic interior never really started work, suggesting Google’s plans were either too ambitious, or not focused enough. However, Google hasn’t commented on why it cancelled the Portland barge project.

Scrapping the Portland barge means a sad end to what could have been a unique space. Given the massive size of the showroom, it was speculated Google would fill it with all manner of tech, including demonstrations of its driverless cars, Google Glass, and other Google X projects. There was even said to be a “party deck.”

The fate of its sister barge, moored in Stockton, isn’t clear. According to the port director, the fees for keeping the barge on site have been paid until October. Google may have decided two barges was overkill, and will concentrate its efforts (and money) on one. If so, scrapping the other before it rots away seems sensible. Until we hear more, our dreams of partying aboard the Google boat remain alive.