George Lucas Museum

For a couple years, George Lucas has been hoping to build the Lucas Museum, a facility that would celebrate filmmmaking through the lens of the creator of Star Wars in Chicago, Illinois. However, the museum has faced a battle from Friends of the Parks who filed a federal lawsuit to block construction of the museum because it would “violate the public trust doctrine, benefit a private interest more than the state’s residents and tarnish the city’s lakefront.”

It appears this battle is now coming to a close, but not in favor of George Lucas. Reportedly, the ongoing debate and controversy has run its course, and Lucas is now looking at other possible locations for the museum back on the West Coast. Find out more about the George Lucas museum debacle after the jump.

Lucas brought his museum plans to Chicago after already getting rejected in San Francisco. For those who don’t know, Lucas has been spending plenty of time in the Windy City because his wife, financial executive Mellody Hobson, is a Chicago native. Some of my own friends have spotted him around the city and his son Jett Lucas was at one time working on the crew of the show Empire, which shoots in Chicago.

Friends of the Park has been holding up plans for the museum to move forward since November of 2014, stopping the proposal to build on the land owned by the Chicago Park District that is south of Soldier Field, where the Chicago Bears play. Here’s an illustration of what the museum would have looked like on the lakefront:

George Lucas Museum

The city of Chicago has been fighting against the organization in the courts to toss the lawsuit out the window, since it has all the necessary city and state approvals, but Friends of the Park have been persistent and stubborn in their pursuits.

Instead of building on the lakefront property (which really wouldn’t be tainted any more than it already is by Soldier Field and the rest of the museum campus), Mayor Rahm Emanuel proposed that the museum be built on the demolished shell of the Lakeside East conventions hall at McCormick Place, which is the center where the annual car show and C2E2 (Chicago’s Comic-Con) is usually held.

Friends of the Park were willing to talk about that site, but by that point, Jesse Ruiz, the Park District president, said the “political window” on that location had passes and the original space between McCormick Place and Soldier Field was the only place they wanted to build. It was going to be that or nothing.

In recent weeks, the organization was willing to reconsider the original site, with new negotiation talking points and the proposal to have 5 percent of museum revenues go toward a neighborhood parks fund to help revitalize parks in need of improvements. But Ruiz says called that idea “outrageous” and said the proposition was ” completely at odds.”

So now Mayor Emanuel says Lucas is looking elsewhere. But there may be hope because he cautions, “Time is running out and they’re going to cost the city a tremendous, generous gift that enhances the cultural and educational and economic enrichment.” If Lucas had completely moved on, he probably wouldn’t say something like that, so maybe there’s still a chance to salvage the plans.

As someone who lives an hour outside of Chicago, I’d love to see this museum come together, and it’s clear the Friends of the Parks are being a bunch of uppity jerks about something that will benefit the city and attract even more people who will spend their money there.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: