In a positive ruling for opponents of using Chicago park land for the Lucas Museum, a federal judge ruled Thursday that the lawsuit against the project could proceed and suggested the state might have to change the law for the museum to move forward, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
U.S. District Judge John Darrah ruled that Friends of the Parks have standing to sue, that the issue was ripe and that “case law suggests action by the Illinois General Assembly is required to initiate the transfer of public land held in trust for all the citizens of Illinois.”
Neither Friends of the Parks attorneys nor city attorneys would immediately comment on the ruling Thursday morning.
The suit, which was filed in November by the nonprofit, is battling the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District over the plan to build the museum near Lake Michigan, between Soldier Field and McCormick Place.
The suit contends the city and Park District do not have the authority to approve the project on that site without prior consent from the General Assembly. This is because the proposed site is a protected waterway and should be kept as a natural space, the lawsuit argues.
The site used to be part of Lake Michigan before it was filled almost a century ago. The site proposed for the project is part of the museum campus, which already houses the Field Museum, Adler Planetarium and Shedd Aquarium.
The city and the park district argue they have the power to single-handedly transfer the land to the museum, saying the park district owns the proposed site since the park was created.
The project, officially named the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, was unveiled last year after filmmaker George Lucas selected Chicago to be its home. The city signed a preliminary agreement with Lucas last September, proposing the 17-acre site, now a parking lot, to house the museum.