Group Files Lawsuit Against Proposed George Lucas Museum

"Friends of the Parks" argues the proposed site sits atop reclaimed waterways and therefore cannot be used for private development

A group called "Friends of the Parks" hopes a federal lawsuit filed Thursday will stop construction of director George Lucas' proposed museum on Chicago's lakefront.
The organization argues the 17-acre location between Soldier Field and McCormick Place sits atop reclaimed waterways and therefore cannot be used for private development.

"The structure will interfere with keeping the lakefront clear and free for equal access by all citizens to navigation, boating, fishing, recreation and commerce," Cassandra Francis, the group's president, said during a morning press conference.

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel earlier this year offered up the site for the proposed $400 million museum. It would be built on two parking lots located near Soldier Field and offered to lease the land to Lucas for $1, a similar arrangement other large cultural institutions have with the Chicago Park District.

A mayoral spokesman said he hadn't seen the pending litigation and therefore couldn't comment on it but said the museum would "be treated like every other museum on the campus and be in full compliance with all applicable laws."

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According to the Chicago Tribune, Friends of the Parks has seen an uptick in donations and phone calls of concern since Beijing-based designer Ma Yansong unveiled his vision: a 400,000 square-foot structure with a circular observation deck offering 360-degree views.

The Better Government Association in August reminded of a report that construction on the lakefront site could unearth potentially cancer-causing chemicals from debris dating back to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Missing Attachment Chicago got its first glimpse of what the George Lucas Museum might look like. Rob Elgas reports.
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