Chicago May Lose George Lucas Museum
By Ken Hare
Chicago Defender Staff Writer
A lawsuit filed by Friends of the Park against George Lucas’ proposed museum on the lakefront has recently gained momentum in federal court. The lawsuit opposes the current location but not the museum itself. In its motion, Friends of the Park attorney Geoghegan argued that the museum site between Soldier Field and McCormick Place is held in the public trust because it is formerly part of Lake Michigan, and that the land should be protected and preserved for the state’s residents.
Friends of the Parks’ attorneys also argued that the terms of the lease, which include a two-time option to renew, basically hands over the property to the nonprofit organization that will run the museum. The parks group said that a state law passed last year targeting museums on formerly submerged land should not serve as a green light for the project.
U.S. District Judge John Darrah ruled Friends of the Parks makes a case that the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would not benefit the public, and that the project may violate the state’s public trust doctrine. The judge has issued an order barring construction at the site while the city of Chicago attorneys along with Chicago Park District attorneys have filed a motion asking the judge to lift his order so construction can begin on the project.
The attorneys alleged that if construction doesn’t start soon, Chicago may lose the Lucas Museum to another city. They have asked Judge Darrah to rule on their request by March 16, 2016.