Lucas Museum dropping plans to build in Chicago

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CHICAGO --  "Star Wars" filmmaker George Lucas says Chicago won't be home to his Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.

Lucas Museum officials issued a statement Friday saying it will no longer consider Chicago as a potential site for the museum because of an ongoing federal lawsuit from a parks advocacy group. Instead, museum officials say the museum will be located in California.

“No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot,” said George W. Lucas, founder and chairman of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, in a news release. “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.”

Friends of the Parks has argued that the museum plans violate laws restricting development along Lake Michigan. The museum was to be built on a parking lot near Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears play. Lucas said in a statement that no one benefits from the park group's "seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot."

Friends of the Park says it's unfortunate the film director has decided to take the museum to California rather than pick a different site within the city.

The group says choosing from several alternative sites away from the lakefront would have been a "true win-win."

Mayor Emanuel released the following statement regarding the loss of the museum:

“Two years ago to the day, George Lucas and Mellody Hobson announced that they had chosen Chicago as the site of their incredible legacy investment. The opportunity for a City to gain a brand new museum is rare, and this particular opportunity – a gift worth approximately $1.5 billion – would have been the largest philanthropic contribution in Chicago’s history.

Unfortunately, time has run out and the moment we’ve consistently warned about has arrived – Chicago’s loss will be another city’s gain. 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.”

This is a developing story. Check back for details.


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