Elsewhere online
June 24, 2016

George Lucas Museum Pulls Plug on Plan to Build in Chicago

Officials with the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art announced Friday that they have abandoned plans to build a home for movie mogul George Lucas’s collection of art and film memorabilia on the Chicago waterfront, the Chicago Tribune reports. The decision comes almost exactly two years after the Star Wars creator selected Chicago as the museum site and more than 18 months into a legal battle with a local preservation group over the plan.

Mr. Lucas — whose wife, financier Mellody Hobson, is a Chicago native — pledged to put $743 millions of his own money into the project and had strong backing from Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s administration. The plan, anchored to the filmmaker’s demand that the attraction go up on the Lake Michigan shore, foundered on objections from the nonprofit Friends of the Parks, which argued that the lakefront land should be held in public trust.

The judge in the case blocked construction until the suit is adjudicated, and efforts to settle the matter out of court — notably with a city proposal to move the museum to a different waterfront parcel — ran aground, with Friends of the Park and Chicago officials trading public barbs and demands in recent days. Amid the protracted delay, museum officials began talks with San Francisco to return the project to the Bay Area, where Mr. Lucas had initially planned to build.

Friends of the Parks issued a memorandum last week outlining terms under which it would negotiate, including a suggestion that the museum earmark 5 percent of its revenue to support neighborhood parks in Chicago. In an email response to the nonprofit, Jesse Ruiz, president of city agency that oversees parkland, had said the list of demands “might be the final nail in the coffin” for the project.