Emanuel considers plan to demolish McCormick Place East, build Lucas Museum

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CHICAGO -- Mayor Emanuel is considering a plan to demolish McCormick Place East to make room for George Lucas' art museum.

The nearly 60 year old McCormick Place East, now known as the Lakeside Center, would be demolished and the 300 million dollar Lucas Museum would rise in its place.

Friends of the Parks,  a conservation organization, has sued to keep the private museum off of the public lakefront.  Today the  group says it has been consulted on the mayor’s new idea  and it is reviewing information.

The group released the following statement:

“Friends of the Parks appreciates that the City of Chicago finally reached out to us yesterday with the mayor’s new idea for the Lucas Museum.  We will discuss and analyze this new information while we review the discovery materials we also just received from the City this week,” said Lauren Moltz, board chair of Friends of the Parks.  “Friends of the Parks will continue in our commitment to preserve, protect, promote and improve the use of our parks and in our historic role in upholding the principles that have fostered the jewel of a lakefront that we all enjoy.”

City Hall is reportedly floating the idea to demolish McCormick Place to avoid a legal battle with Friends of the Parks and find a solution to the controversy without losing the museum to another city.

For months Mayor Emanuel has argued that the prestige of the project, the tourism money it could bring and the new parkland that would be created would be a win-win for everyone. The mayor’s office didn’t directly comment on the idea of demolishing McCormick Place, but the mayors spokeswoman issued a statement saying …"There are ongoing conversations with George Lucas and Mellody Hobson, as well as a number of other stakeholders, aimed at making sure the Lucas Museum, and the cultural and educational opportunities it would offer, remains here in Chicago.”

Lucas chose Chicago in part because his wife Mellody Hobson is from here.  She issued her own statement saying, "We remain hopeful about building the museum in the city of Chicago. Similar to the current parking lot site, we believe McCormick Place would be an excellent location and extends the already world-class museum campus on Chicago's lakefront to the South Side.”

The futuristic looking design would house art and memorabilia from Lucas’s career as a filmmaker.

 

What remains unclear is how Chicago would replace the lost convention space and pay for it.