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George Lucas Facing Possible Lawsuit Over Chicago Museum Build

Advocates say the planned $1 billion facility would violate city ordinances

George Lucas.
Nicky Loh/Bloomberg/Getty Images.
July 16, 2014 5:35 PM ET

Back in June, George Lucas announced plans to build a private museum in the Windy City, but he's facing some political opposition from Chicago open space advocates, who claim his $1 billion, 95,000-square-foot design for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would be in violation of city ordinances created to protect public space adjacent to Lake Michigan. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the advocates are threatening to file a lawsuit that would block the 70-year-old Star Wars creator from carrying out the build. 

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The publication notes a variety of other opponents, including aldermen (who think the museum should be located downtown or in an economically disadvantaged area) and devoted Chicago Bears fans (who worry that losing two parking lots would interfere with their pre-game tailgating). But the city's mayor, Rahm Emanuel, reportedly shrugged off the lawsuit at a recent press conference: "Our contribution is two parking lots," he said, while noting the economic and employment benefits the build would bring. 

The facility – set to reside on lakefront real estate near football stadium Soldier Field – is set to include a variety of items from Lucas' personal collection, including film memorabilia, visual effects examples created by Industrial Light and Magic and paintings by American artists like Norman Rockwell. The filmmaker is aiming to open the museum in 2018. 

Lucas' original plan was to construct the facility in San Francisco (near the headquarters of Lucasfilm), but that proposal was rejected for interfering with the "historic character" of the area. However, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told THR that Lucas, whom he called "a perfect gentleman," is welcome to move construction to L.A. if the Chicago plans fall through. 

"I am humbled to be joining such an extraordinary museum community and to be creating the museum in a city that has a long tradition of embracing the arts," Lucas said last month in a statement announcing the Chicago build. 

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