After more than a year of wrangling in the halls of justice and the court of public opinion, it’s finally official: Chicago has lost the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.
The Hollywood director put out a statement this afternoon making it absolutely clear who is responsible for Chicago not getting his $700 million gift: The Friends of the Parks.
In light of extensive delays caused by FOTP, Chicago no longer will be considered a potential site.
Not surprisingly, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pissed, and also laying blame at the feet of the Friends of the Parks.
…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.
You can read the Mayor’s complete statement below.
The proposal for Mr. Lucas to locate his museum in Chicago’s Museum Campus was greeted with much ballyhoo two years ago. It was going to replace a surface parking lot just south of Solider Field, and create additional park land. Best of all, the cost of the project was going to be picked up by Mr. Lucas, not the taxpayers.
But due to a quirk in Illinois case law that allows any yahoo to sue to stop development near the shore of Lake Michigan, the unelected, self-appointed group Friends of the Parks went to court to block the project. In true Chicago fashion, it then issued a list of demands to be met in order for the lawsuit to be dropped. A 1920’s mobster might word it slightly differently: “Mighty nice museum plan you’ve got there. Be a real shame if it got tied up in court indefinitely.”
Tired of having his gift horse looked in the mouth, Mr. Lucas is now focusing his efforts on the west coast. The Chicago Sun-Times reports that San Francisco is the current front-runner in a two-city race with Los Angeles.
Updated: June 24, 2016 @ 1:52pmCT
Friends of the Parks sent over its statement on Lucas pulling out of Chicago. It’s just the following two sentences, attributed to both Executive Director Juanita Irizarry and Board Chair Lauren Moltz:
It is unfortunate that the Lucas Museum has made the decision to leave Chicago rather than locate the museum on one of the several alternative sites that are not on Chicago’s lakefront. That would have been the true win-win.
STATEMENT FROM MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL ON THE LUCAS MUSEUM OF NARRATIVE ART
“Two years ago to the day, George Lucas and Mellody Hobson announced that they had chosen Chicago as the site of their incredible legacy investment. The opportunity for a City to gain a brand new museum is rare, and this particular opportunity – a gift worth approximately $1.5 billion – would have been the largest philanthropic contribution in Chicago’s history.
Unfortunately, time has run out and the moment we’ve consistently warned about has arrived – Chicago’s loss will be another city’s gain. This missed opportunity has not only cost us what will be a world-class cultural institution, it has cost thousands of jobs for Chicago workers, millions of dollars in economic investment and countless educational opportunities for Chicago’s youth.
Despite widespread support of the project from Chicago’s cultural, business, labor, faith and community leaders and the public, a legal challenge filed by Friends of the Parks threatened to derail this once-in-a-generation opportunity.
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.”