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Chicago Isn't Getting The Lucas Museum

By Stephen Gossett in News on Jun 24, 2016 5:36PM

Latest design (Lucas Museum of Narrative Art)

Chicago will no longer be considered a potential site for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Star Wars creator George Lucas announced Friday. The seemingly never-ending saga of the museum maybe-coming to Chicago, marked by many proposed changes and at least one false deadline, is over.

Initial plans for the project—slated for a 17-acre stretch of lakefront near Soldier Field—was announced two years ago, only to be followed by more than a year of fractious negotiations between Lucas and the Friends of the Parks. Construction on the museum was stalled by a lawsuit by FOTP, which argued that the parking lot Lucas planned to build on should be protected because it could, hypothetically, become a lakefront park one day.

“No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot,” Lucas said in his statement. "The actions initiated by Friends of Parks and their recent attempts to extract concessions from the city have effectively overridden approvals received from numerous democratically elected bodies of government.”

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who (along with a bevy of local museum directors) backed the Lucas Museum project, released a statement saying "the moment we’ve consistently warned about has arrived - Chicago’s loss will be another city's gain."

Emanuel continued:

"This missed opportunity has not only cost us what will be a world-class cultural institution, it has cost thousands of jobs for Chicago workers, millions of dollars in economic investment and countless educational opportunities for Chicago’s youth.

Despite widespread support of the project from Chicago’s cultural, business, labor, faith and community leaders and the public, a legal challenge filed by Friends of the Parks threatened to derail this once-in-a-generation opportunity.

We tried to find common ground to resolve the lawsuit - the sole barrier preventing the start of the museum’s construction. But despite our best efforts to negotiate a common solution that would keep this tremendous cultural and economic asset in Chicago, Friends of the Parks chose to instead negotiate with themselves while Lucas negotiated with cities on the West Coast.”

Lucas is now expected to take the project back to California. Lucas initially wanted to build the museum in San Francisco, where it was blocked by legal issues similar to the ones it faced in Chicago.

Update, 1:50 p.m.: Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry and Board Chair Lauren Moltz have issued the following statement:

It is unfortunate that the Lucas Museum has made the decision to leave Chicago rather than locate the museum on one of several alternative sites that is not on Chicago's lakefront. That would have been the true win-win.