George Lucas said it’s “a possibility” that the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would have to find a home outside Chicago, according to a Los Angeles Times report.
“We still have to get through some lawsuits and things in Chicago,” Lucas said Friday, the newspaper reported. “Once we make it through, we’ll be on our way. But it’s still a possibility that Chicago will be unable to do it,” Lucas said.
Friends of the Parks has filed suit to block the movie mogul from building an interactive museum on free lakefront land.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has proposed the giveaway of 17 acres of lakefront land near McCormick Place.
On Saturday, Lucas, in statement to the Chicago Sun-Times, said: “The Museum Campus site offered by the City of Chicago is unparalleled and I am profoundly grateful to have the opportunity to work with the community to build a world-class institution focused on providing educational programming for all Chicagoans and for visitors from around the world.”
He added that museum officials are working with the design team, including Jeanne Gang, and “many different community groups and cultural institutions to refine the proposal and launch another round of community engagement.”
The California newspaper reported Los Angeles is among the locations Lucas would consider if he can’t build the $400 million museum in Chicago.
When asked about other cities being in the running to house the museum, a Lucas spokeswoman, Kate LeFurgy, would only say, “We remain committed and are focusing on Chicago.”.
A spokesman for the city said in a statement, “There’s a reason other cities like LA and San Francisco were upset when George Lucas and Mellody Hobson chose Chicago for this major philanthropic gift, which will be a significant contribution to our museum campus and the educational and cultural offerings of our city. We look forward to a robust public process to discuss the museum’s potential to expand green space, create jobs and create a major educational asset for the city.” Hobson is married to Lucas.
Friends of the Parks has condemned the mayor’s plan as a clear violation of the Lakefront Protection Ordinance and the 1973 Lakefront Plan of Chicago that prohibits “further private development” east of Lake Shore Drive.
The group filed suit last year asking a federal judge to stop proposed construction on the site between McCormick Place and Soldier Field where the filmmaker wants to build the museum, which will house the “Star Wars” creator’s impressive collection of artwork and movie-making memorabilia.
The lawsuit argues the proposed site of the Lucas Museum “consists entirely of land recovered from the navigable waters of Lake Michigan” and that the state of Illinois is the “exclusive trustee” of that landfill.
The city’s legal department has previously said, “We believe the plaintiff’s claims are legally baseless and defective on multiple grounds.”
The Lucas museum, the city’s lawyer’s have said, “will be in full compliance with all applicable laws and will be treated like every other museum on the campus. This museum is a substantial investment in Chicago’s cultural scene that will create green space, billions of dollars in local economic impact and hundreds of construction and permanent jobs.”
A federal judge has ordered the city not to physically alter the proposed site of the museum while the lawsuit is pending.
Contributing: Jon Seidel, Fran Spielman