Lucas Museum halts plans to build in Chicago

CHICAGO, June 24 (UPI) — Filmmaker George Lucas backed out of plans to build a museum dedicated to his work in Chicago after being on hold for several years.

The Star Wars creator announced Friday that he would instead focus on building the museum in California after the project’s proposal was had been on hold since November 2014, the Chicago Tribune reported.

Lucas stated that a lawsuit that blocked construction of the museum due to its proposed lakefront location near Soldier Field played a factor in the decision.

“No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot,” Lucas said. “The actions initiated by Friends of the Parks and their recent attempts to extract concessions from the city have effectively overridden approvals received from numerous democratically elected bodies of government.”

The Chicago Sun Times reported the decision to abandon the 17-acre plan will cost Chicago a private investment of $743 million.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also blamed the lawsuit, as well as Lucas’s unwillingness to select an alternate location, for the project’s ultimate cancellation.

“We tried to find common ground to resolve the lawsuit – the sole barrier preventing the start of the museum’s construction. But despite our best efforts to negotiate a common solution that would keep this tremendous cultural and economic asset in Chicago, Friends of the Parks chose to instead negotiate with themselves while Lucas negotiated with cities on the West Coast,” he said.

Friends of the Parks responded to Lucas and Emanuel’s statements maintaining that the project did not belong at the lakefront location.

“It is unfortunate that the Lucas Museum has made the decision to leave Chicago rather than locate the museum on one of several alternative sites that is not on Chicago’s lakefront. That would have been the true win-win,” executive director Juanita Irizarry said in a statement.

Lucas initially chose to build the museum in his wife’s hometown of Chicago instead of San Francisco in June 2014 citing the “quality” and “unparalleled visitor access” of the original proposed site.

Despite the decision to cancel the project, Lucas thanked Emanuel and the city of Chicago and promised to continue to support the city.

“We are deeply appreciative to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Bruce Rauner and countless others for all the time and effort they invested in trying to secure the museum for Chicago,” he said. “While Chicago will not be home to the museum, my wife and I will continue to enthusiastically support a wide variety of educational and cultural activities throughout the city.”

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