The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art says it is now "seriously pursuing" locations outside of Chicago after Friends of the Parks announced Tuesday that it opposes any site on the city’s lakefront, including the recently announced McCormick Place Lakeside Center plan.
The move was a change in direction for Friends of the Park, which had earlier agreed to halt their lawsuit against the city's proposed plan.
On Monday, the City of Chicago formally asked for a 30-day reprieve from an ongoing lawsuit, noting that they are actively seeking a new site for the museum. In a Tuesday morning news release, the non-profit group said the decision to suspend the suit would give “the opportunity to have a more direct and productive dialogue to reach a potential solution about a museum site.”
Their lawsuit targets the museum’s original site, located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place.
But, Friends of the Parks made it clear Tuesday that it opposes any site on Chicago’s lakefront. The group said it will either amend the existing lawsuit to encompass the new McCormick Place Lakeside Center site or file a new suit, according to the Chicago Tribune.
“We're disappointed and baffled at Friends of the Parks' comments, which are contradictory to the decision they made less than 24 hours ago to stay the lawsuit,” City Hall spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier said in a statement. “Friends of the Parks has taken inconsistent and incoherent positions, making it impossible to work with them.”
The city has now withdrawn their request to put the court proceedings on pause.
Mellody Hobson, the wife of George Lucas, claimed her and her husband’s efforts to build the museum have been “co-opted and hijacked” by Friends of the Parks.
“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to preserve a parking lot, we were offered a different and feasible solution—the replacement of an underutilized and outdated convention space that would also add more than 12 acres of new parkland,” Hobson said in a statement. “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,” Hobson added."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."