Thanks For Nothing: Parking Lot Preservation Prevails, Lucas’ Lady Lashes Luddites

Lucas Museum drawing, courtesy of MAD Architects

Lucas Museum drawing, courtesy of MAD Architects

The proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is another step toward leaving Chicago behind.

In a strongly-worded statement today, Mellody Hobson, the wife of Hollywood director George Lucas, lashed out at those who looked her husband’s $700 million gift horse in the mouth.

We are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago.  If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks

The museum is in a tough situation right now.  Friends of the Parks has a lawsuit on hold to block it from being built on a parking lot south of Soldier Field.  It only put that suit on hold because Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered the demolition of the McCormick Place Lakeside Center as a sacrificial lamb.  But that could cost more than a billion dollars; money neither the city nor the state has, and that isn’t likely to be raised in the current political climate.  Moreover, the stay of the lawsuit is only temporary, and the McCormick Place location isn’t on the list of approved sites put out by Friends of the Parks this morning.

At this point it looks like the Lucas’ have two options: Go to another, more welcoming, city.  Or go with one of the locations that Friends of the Parks has deigned acceptable.

You can read Ms. Hobson’s complete statement below.


STATEMENT: We are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago

CHICAGO – The following statement is by Mellody Hobson on behalf of the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art following Friends of the Parks announcement rejecting a compromise location for the museum:

“My husband and I have worked in earnest for two years, side-by-side with every relevant city agency, community leader, and policy maker, to give what would be the largest philanthropic gift to an American city in the 21st century. From the beginning, this process has been co-opted and hijacked by a small special interest group. When the Friends of the Parks sued the city in order to preserve a parking lot, we were offered a different and feasible solution—the replacement of an underutilized and outdated convention space that would also add more than 12 acres of new parkland. Yet, even with this additional park space, an organization that claims to ‘preserve, protect, improve and promote the use of parks and open space’ now opposes this as well. While they claim to be a ‘strong steward of Chicago and a partner to its progress,’ their actions and decision rob our state of more than $2 billion in economic benefits, thousands of jobs and countless educational opportunities for children and adults alike.

As an African American who has spent my entire life in this city I love, it saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer. As Chair of the Board of After School Matters, which serves 15,000 public high school students in Chicago and has more demand than can ever be met, I have seen firsthand what art can do to spur imagination and creativity, heal the soul and advance society—something so needed right now. This is a city of big shoulders and a metropolis that is second to none. In refusing to accept the extraordinary public benefits of the museum, the Friends of the Parks has proven itself to be no friend of Chicago. We are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago. If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks and that is no victory for anyone.”


Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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  1. NIMBYS like FOTP are cancers that are trying to destroy our city.

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    • No, FOTP is to be commended. There is no reason that this museum had to be placed on the lakefront, except Lucas’ and Hobson’s egos. We’ve been fighting to protect the lakefront since 1830 — did you know that this was when the FIRST ordinance to protect the lakefront was enacted? I understand there is a parking lot there but this does not justify BUILDING more on the lakefront. Bike the lakefront on a summer evening, north AND south, and tell me that this is not a cherished resource! As for ruining the City, there is no way the City and State have any funds to spur construction for this — with the roads, bridges, schools and public hospitals crumbling, we have no money to help the Lucases out !

      Post a Reply
      • Editor

        The Lusases didn’t ask the city to help out. They were going to pay for the museum entirely themselves. That’s part of why they feel so aggrieved. They offered Chicago a $700 million gift, and FotPL spat in their faces.

        Post a Reply
        • GET REAL!!!!

          The convention center swap depends on building a new convention space west of the Drive — does anybody really think that the General Assembly and Gov. Bruce Rauner would support the nearly $1.2 billion borrowing package.

          Word to Lucas and Hobson Don’t let the door hit you in the way out.

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      • Joan you are so misguided in your thinking you actually believe you are saving us from ourselves. FOTP is a pathetic group of misguided egos doing more damage to our city than corrupt politicians and bad budgets.

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  2. I am beyond sick over this, what a waste!
    Chicago needs the jobs, income, excitement, tourists…the list goes on and on.
    How can this misguided group block this opportunity?
    If I don’t see them with their picnic baskets sitting in this exact spot, then their claim was a lie and must be exposed.
    I want this museum built here.

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  3. Great job at preserving the parking lot (on the lake front)………….its so nice and vacant.

    (not even sure why this group that’s want to preserve parkland is preserving asphalt, makes you wonder if the parking lot owners are paying them off or something)

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  4. I don’t buy the argument that Lucas is giving us a “gift.” He clearly wants to use public land for a private enterprise – with a 300 year lease to boot! Is there no where else in the city that has vacant land, where a museum like this can reinvigorate a community? Of course there is. FOTP is upholding the principle that public land is public. Don’t blame them, blame Lucas for being so arrogant as to not find any other alternative land for his museum than public land. His stance shows me that he loves himself more than he loves Chicago.

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    • Its a parking lot……. not even open to the public. Now if it was an actual park that be a different story.

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