New Plan for Lucas Museum Requires $1.2 Billion in Borrowing: Report

The mayor's new plan would require $1.2 billion in borrowing, additional state aid

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s new plan to demolish McCormick Place East and build George Lucas’ museum in its place would reportedly require $1.2 billion in borrowing.

The Chicago Tribune reports roughly $665 million would go towards the demolition of the above-ground portion of the existing lakefront convention center and to fund the construction of the new museum and a new walkway over Lake shore Drive, among other projects.

Another $500 million would go towards a “bridge building” over Martin Luther King Drive to further connect the site’s remaining buildings, upgrades for those buildings and updated parking spaces for the Chicago Park District and Lucas Museum.

In order to fund the museum’s construction and a replacement convention space, the mayor is asking the state to carry on a 2 percent hotel tax, which is currently being used to fund U.S. Cellular Field’s debt, the Tribune reports.

Emanuel is also reportedly asking the state to extend a handful of other taxes and to continue contributing subsidies amounting to as as much as $15 million a year.

The new plan, which calls for the demolition of McCormick Place’s Lakeside Center, would shore up 12 acres of prime lakefront real estate.

The current site for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place. Emanuel originally planned to give Lucas 17 acres of lakefront land, but the construction of the museum on that site has been held up by a lawsuit filed by Friends of the Parks.

The group’s main argument is that the museum’s 99-year lease wouldn’t benefit the public and would promote private and commercial interests. The group also claims the museum would detract from the city’s lakefront and add to traffic woes in the area.

Nevertheless, the group remained open to the prospect of a new location for the museum.

“Friends of the Parks appreciates that the City of Chicago finally reached out to us yesterday with the mayor’s new idea for the Lucas Museum," Board Chair of Friends of the Parks Lauren Moltz said in a statement. "We will discuss and analyze this new information while we review the discovery materials we also just received from the City this week.”

Fearing a potential move to Los Angeles or San Francisco, Emanuel is now pushing for the McCormick Place demolition as a means of keeping the museum in Chicago.

Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, was supportive of the new site last week. Though she noted that it would be more costly.

"There are some tradeoffs we'd have to make," Hobson told NBC Chicago. "It's actually more expensive to build there than the other location, but we said we want this to work."

If Emanuel’s new plan pans out, Lucas would still give $743 million to fund the project.

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