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Now Rahm Wants The Lucas Museum To Replace McCormick Place East

By Sophie Lucido Johnson in News on Apr 15, 2016 5:13PM

Designs for the Lucas Museum (Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

The Lucas Museum, the modernist brainchild of Star Wars mogul George Lucas, may have a last-gasp chance for finding a home in Chicago. Lucas has been trying to build his museum in Chicago for over a year, but legal battles have complicated his plan to build it on the lakefront near Soldier Field. Now, Mayor Rahm Emanuel may try to strike a compromise with the museum's opponents, offering to demolish McCormick Place East (also known as Lakeside Center) to make way for Lucas' museum, the Sun-Times reports. In addition to making room for a scaled-down museum, demolition of Lakeside Center would also create 12 acres of open park space on the lakefront.

While most of the building would be demolished, underground parking and storage, as well as heating and cooling systems, would remain in place under Rahm's current plan, the Sun-Times reports. This would lower the cost to Lucas. In order to appease City Hall and keep McCormick Place substantial, Emanuel would propose expanding the convention center, which had already been rebuilt once after it burned down in 1967.

Sun-Times sources cautioned that demolishing McCormick Place East would result in complications, though, including the loss of floor space used in manufacturing shows. It's also unclear how the convention center remodel would be financed, and how the Chicago Park District would make up for the lost revenue if the Lakeside Center.

Originally, the Lucas Museum was slated to be built on 17 acres of lakefront space near Soldier Field. This proposal was challenged by Friends of the Parks, who filed a lawsuit contesting the legality of using the stretch of land; their lawsuit was recently supported by a federal judge. They strongly encouraged Lucas to consider building the museum at the old Michael Reese Hospital site, which the city owns after making a bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics that never came to fruition. Friends of the Park also proposed building the museum on the west side of Lake Shore Drive, on an elevated deck like the one Millennium Park is on.

However, Emanuel has implied that efforts to get Lucas to consider an alternate location have so far gone poorly. He's worried that the longer Chicago waits, the more likely it is Lucas will look elsewhere for his museum, the Sun-Times previously reported. Last month, the tiny village of Tinley Park, Illinois even made an ambitious play to be the home of the new museum.