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March 13, 2015

Court Ruling Buoys Chicago Critics of George Lucas Museum

Opponents of movie mogul George Lucas's planned Museum of Narrative Art on Chicago's waterfront won a significant legal victory Thursday as a federal judge cleared their lawsuit against the project to proceed, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. U.S. District Judge John Darrah ruled that advocacy group Friends of the Parks has standing to challenge the $700 million project in court and suggested that Illinois law would need to be changed to build the museum on a site along Lake Michigan.

Friends of the Parks argues that the state is the "exclusive trustee" of the protected waterway and that the city and its Park District, which owns the 17-acre property, do not have authority to turn it over for the museum. Mr. Lucas settled on the Chicago site last year after federal officials rejected his plan to build the museum in San Francisco's Presidio.

Thursday's ruling could have ramifications for Chicago's tight mayoral race, as incumbent Rahm Emanuel strongly backs the "Star Wars" filmmaker's plan and challenger Jesus "Chuy" Garcia opposes it. Museum officials said after the ruling that they "remain committed" to pursuing the project in Chicago.