Lucas Museum Remains Stalled


The city of Chicago on February 16 asked a federal judge to lift an order barring George Lucas from starting construction of the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum along the Lakefront while litigation plays out. However, Judge John W. Darrah, who has been presiding over the lawsuit for 15 months, ruled he isn’t willing to allow construction while the case against it is still pending.

The lawsuit by the nonprofit Friends of the Parks contends that the planned museum “violates the public trust because it will be built on the submerged waters of Lake Michigan and that a privately held museum is not in residents’ best interests.”

The city had hoped to duplicate the success of the Chicago Cubs owners who got a comparable construction ban repealed by a judge in April 2015. They were allowed to start work on view-obstructing enhancements to Wrigley Field while an active lawsuit between the ballclub and neighboring rooftop owners remained unsettled.

According to the Chicago Tribune, a city attorney told the judge during the hearing that museum officials have begun to “consider other cities and other sites that it may relocate to.”

DNAinfo Chicago reports

Darrah, however, seemed unmoved by the argument Wednesday, saying he has 400 pending cases on his docket. The case has a number of upcoming court dates, including a hearing scheduled for Feb. 24.

“If you want to ask my 399 other [plaintiffs] if you can go first, go ahead,” he said.

Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last week he would consider a different site but first would have to talk to Lucas and his wife, Mellody Hobson.

If Lucas gives up on Chicago and offers his Museum to another city, it will be the second defeat he has suffered since his original proposal to build on the grounds of the Presidio failed to gain acceptance in San Francisco.

13 thoughts on “Lucas Museum Remains Stalled

  1. Good. Let it go. Chicago doesn’t need this abomination on the lakefront and no one wants it but the mayor.

  2. Absolutely. I don’t mind if he offers them a different site (well, depending on the site), but that monstrosity does not belong on the lakefront.

  3. They’ll get around it somehow. Money talks in Chicago, after all. And since his wife is from there I think they’ll really make a push for it to stay.
    When they ‘talked’ about putting it out here in the Presidio, I figured it was a fake-out. The first incarnation looked like a mausoleum and the second ‘revised’ concept looked like a mausoleum for Disneyland. Boring beyond belief.

  4. That is fugly. Even a big steel and metal box would be better.

    I go to Chicago near the lake every time they have Worldcon 🙂 and I don’t wanna see that on my next visit.

  5. The last time I saw a thing like that, it was trying to eat Rock Hudson and his teenage pals.

    The last time I saw something like that, it was hiding a roller coaster inside.

  6. I’m with the Friends of the Parks on this. The lakeshore is supposed to remain “Forever Open, Clear, and Free” for all.

  7. It’s a big city. Can’t they build in a different part of town?

    As a taxpayer, I’m always annoyed at cities making concessions to billionaires in order to get them to come to their city, whether sports teams or George Lucas. Every time it comes up locally, we are treated to more claims about how it will be good for the city. So far, no one has been able to supply a single study that shows more jobs created or more sales taxes generated. Sure, a small number of construction jobs, but those jobs provide less financial benefit to the community than spending the same amount on desperately needed infrastructure.

  8. World Weary: It’s a big city. Can’t they build in a different part of town?

    Yes. They can. In fact, there’s at least one site on the near south side, just off the Dan Ryan Expressway, that’s just sitting there empty and waiting to be developed into SOMETHING: the old Michael Reese Hospital campus, purchased by the city when Daley was trying to bring the Olympics to Chicago. I gather that the problem has something to do with taxes–as in, there was a pledge that “no city taxes” would be used for the Lucas Museum, and since the city already owns the property, letting Lucas build on it would break that pledge. Personally, I find it difficult to understand–but in any case, I firmly believe that there are other places that the museum could use, if they didn’t want to make a big splash on the lakefront.

  9. Funniest thing I’ve seen today was a comment suggesting they build the thing on the site of the Old Main Post Office, that the mayor wants to condemn for development. This is the building that bridges over Congress Parkway.

    But maybe you have to be here to appreciate the joke.

  10. Maybe Steve McQueen and his teenage pals? I’d hate to think I’m missing a good teenage horror movie.

  11. Lois Tilton: Funniest thing I’ve seen today was a comment suggesting they build the thing on the site of the Old Main Post Office,

    Oh, god, really? That’s hysterical.

    ETA: It’s hysterical even if the comment wasn’t serious, I should add. The image that popped into my head . . .

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