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Lucas Museum Could Become LA's If Chicago Land Plan Fails

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jan 17, 2015 5:00PM

Earth, stone and sky merge seamlessly in the innovative design of the Lucas Museum. (Image credit: Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

Ongoing opposition to the city’s plan to lease 17 acres of plum lakefront property to the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art could force filmmaker George Lucas to find a Plan “B” and consider relocating the museum to another city, possibly to Los Angeles.

At least that’s what Lucas said while promoting his new animated feature, Strange Magic. When asked about the progress of the project, Lucas mentioned the November lawsuit filed by Friends of the Parks and said Los Angeles would involve less bureaucratic red tape.

"The advantage Los Angeles has is that it's on the USC campus and I don't have to go through all the rigmarole of years and years of trying to get past everything," Lucas said. "That's an advantage because I do want to get it done in my lifetime."

Friends of the Parks argues in the lawsuit that the city’s proposal to lease the land, currently a parking lot between Soldier Field and McCormick Place, is a violation of the 14th Amendment and Public Trust Doctrine because the state of Illinois, as the sole trustee of the lakefront, must approve of any land development on the lakefront. Friends of the Parks filed a reply to the city’s and Park District’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit Thursday, and a federal judge is set to rule on the city’s motions Feb. 26.

Lucas is maintaining hope the city will be able to grant him the land to build the museum.

"I have faith in Chicago and [Mayor] Rahm [Emanuel], who is dedicated to making it happen," Lucas said. "But he's also coming up for election next month."

Lucas' wife, Ariel Investments president Mellody Hobson, donated $31,500 to Emanuel's 2011 campaign for mayor. Lucas told interviewer Charlie Rose last November Hobson was integral in persuading Lucas and Emanuel to bring the museum to Chicago.

"Don't worry. I'll talk to the mayor. I'm sure he'll love it," she told (Rose), according to Lucas.

Los Angeles and San Francisco made heavy pushes to land the Lucas Museum but Chicago won out with Emanuel’s promise of the lakefront property for a $1 annual lease. Friends of the Parks and other opponents to the site say they will oppose any plan to build the museum on lakefront or parkland and that the city did not hold public hearings on the plan.