Mayor concerned that Lucas Museum may move to different city

Eric Horng Image
Thursday, March 3, 2016
Mayor warns city could lose Lucas Museum
Mayor Emanuel expressed concerns that the Lucas Museum may go elsewhere while the lawsuit between the city and Friends of the Park proceeds.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Mayor Rahm Emanuel expressed concerns that the Lucas Museum may go elsewhere while the plan to construct it on the lakefront is on hold during a lawsuit between the city and Friends of the Park.

Epic battles filled with drama have always been George Lucas's forte, but could the master filmmaker "un-choose" Chicago due to this ongoing legal fight?

"My goal is to keep it here, but no, there's other cities competing for it now," said Mayor Emanuel. "While it was always originally-not originally, but it was destined for Chicago, and I hope we don't lose it."

The mayor's warning comes as the lawsuit challenging the museum's approved lakefront location moves forward. The site offered to Lucas is currently a parking lot south of Soldier Field, but the group Friends of the Park argue the land legally can't be developed.

"It is not the place of the mayor to give away public land just because that's what Mr. Lucas wants," says Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Park.

Construction was scheduled to begin this spring. In court Wednesday, it became clear a trial may not start until fall which would delay construction or block it altogether. At the same time, the Bay Area, which lost the museum to Chicago, is renewing its interest in the project. The city of Oakland is offering its own lakefront location.

Mayor Emanuel declined to say Wednesday if Lucas would be open to another location in Chicago.

"I would say it's only human to have your heart kind of set on something," Emanuel said.

"We think it would be too bad if Chicago lost the Lucas Museum," said Irizarry, "but we believe that's why the city all along should've been pursuing a site that is legal."

Friends of the Parks says it supports the project itself, just not the location. The group has proposed sites west of Lake Shore Drive, as well as the former Michael Reese hospital site.