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September 11, 2015

Lucas Museum Unveils New Design That Could Derail Lawsuit

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art revealed a scaled-back blueprint for the proposed Chicago lakefront attraction Thursday that could unravel local parks advocates' legal challenge to the project, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The new "ground lease arrangement" between the museum and the Chicago Park District, presented at a federal court hearing in the suit brought by nonprofit preservationist group Friends of the Park, reduces the building's footprint from 400,000 to square feet to at most 300,000 and includes 4.6 acres of new parkland.

Nonprofit group Friends of the Park sued in November, arguing that the $300-million museum backed by movie mogul George Lucas would tarnish a chunk of Lake Michigan shoreline held in trust by the state of Illinois for public benefit. U.S. District Judge John Darrah, who has previously signaled support for the group's position, said Thursday that the new lease deal undercuts its case.

"You don't have anything filed challenging this," he said. "It appears the basis for your complaint as presented by you has been superseded." Lauren Moltz, the Friends of the Parks interim executive director, said the new lease and the judge's comments did not alter the group's objections to the project.