Open space advocates made good Thursday on their promise to go to court to block the proposed site for George Lucas’ museum, asserting in a federal lawsuit that the city of Chicago and the Park District overstepped their authority in offering a lakefront location to the “Star Wars” creator.
The site, now home to two parking lots just south of Soldier Field, was part of Lake Michigan until being filled in sometime during the 1920s, and therefore remains a specially protected waterway, the Friends of the Parks said in its lawsuit.
We're not lawyers here at Sloopin so are not going to debate the validity of this lawsuit. Regardless, should be interesting to see how it plays out.
As opposition mounts on the legal side, alternative ideas also appear to be gaining momentum from other angels - like architecture writer, Blair Kamin at the Chicago Tribune who looks slightly south for a compromise (via Chicago Tribune premium):
There's a better spot for the proposed Lucas Museum of Narrative Arts than the one that led to the much-derided "Mount Lucas" design and prompted Friends of the Parks on Thursday to file a lawsuit in federal court against the plan.
This site would give the museum a high-profile Lake Shore Drive address and the waterfront views coveted by its namesake, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas, without compromising the cherished openness of Chicago's shoreline.
It would be easier to reach by public transit than the 17-acre parcel, consisting of two parking lots between Soldier Field and McCormick Place, that the city has agreed to give to Lucas.
And it would be more economically transformative than the chosen site, spinning off development to the historic African-American neighborhood of Bronzeville, perhaps even raising Mayor Rahm Emanuel's sagging political standing among black voters as he gears up to run for re-election.
Emanuel knows the site well: It figures prominently in a study his administration released last year that lays out strategies for redeveloping the former Michael Reese Hospital property, which the city bought in 2009 as part of Mayor Richard Daley's failed bid to bring the Summer Olympics to Chicago.
But the site I have in mind isn't Reese. It's a narrow, 28-acre strip of asphalt just to the east of the former hospital — a parking lot and staging area for trucks that deliver material to and from the McCormick Place convention center. Truckers and the RV owners who sometimes camp out there know it as the McCormick Place Marshalling Yards.
While we understand the compromise, something tells us that the Lucas camp might not be as enthusiastic about moving further south. While it does provide waterfront views, it is definitely a less prestigious location and definitely would feel more isolated from the "downtown area".
So yeah, more drama and more ambiguity on future plans for the Lucas museum. Will all of this chatter simply result in impeding the inevitable buildout? Or could it actually make a difference and make the city and Lucas concede to a different site? Or could it even open up the door for Lucas to say "see ya Chicago!" I'm taking my millions somewhere else.
Time will tell, stay tuned!
(Hat tip: PB!)