The Future of the Lucas Museum in Chicago Still Hangs in the Balance
A federal court judge ruled Friday that a lawsuit against the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art can move forward. The lawsuit, filed by Friends of the Parks, states that the City of Chicago has no legal standing to allow George Lucas to build his museum on park district land.
U.S. District Court Judge John Darrah in his ruling stated that allowing the building to go forward “could cause an abdication of control of the property” to a private party, even though submerged lands are supposed to be held in public trust. The land in question is currently two parking lots located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place, but it used to be part of Lake Michigan before it was turned into a landfill. Thus, placing it under the domain of the State of Illinois.
Judge Darrah suggested that there would have to be a change in state law to accommodate the Lucas Museum.
Interestingly, the other museums located on the lakefront are also on land that used to be covered by Lake Michigan. However, it would seem their legitimacy is not in question.
The City’s attorney’s and a spokeswoman for Lucas had this to say about the issue:
“While we are disappointed that the court did not resolve the case today, we look forward to the next phase of the public process to determine the best way to make the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art a great new addition to Chicago’s museum campus. This incredible investment will create a world-class educational institute for Chicago’s children, thousands of jobs, and new green space so that more Chicagoans can access and enjoy the lakefront.”
Said a Lucas foundation spokeswoman: “We remain committed to and focused on building the Lucas Museum in Chicago.”
The Friends of the Parks released this statement after the ruling:
“Although the proposed site is now well-used and produces significant revenue as a Chicago Park District and Bears parking lot, its future reversion to parkland is possible. Once a building is in place, it is forever precluded from being public open space. We hope that Mr. Lucas will consider siting his museum just a ½ mile south on the west side of Lake Shore Drive on the former Michael Reese Hospital site. The Reese site would allow the Museum Campus to be expanded to the south and bring needed economic development benefits to the Bronzeville Community.”
Politics could also play a role in the fate of the museum. There is a run-off election in Chicago as no mayoral candidate won enough votes to be elected last month. Current Mayor Rahm Emanuel supports the museum, and lobbied hard to for Chicago to be its home, but his challenger, Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, is opposed to the project.
The run-off election will be held next month.
You can read Judge Darrah’s ruling here: 2015-3-12 Memo Opinion and Order
Source: Crain’s Chicago Business