Mayor Rahm Emanuel insists that Chicago still has a shot at the Lucas museum, and he’s attempting another last-ditch effort to keep the museum here.
“It’s gonna be built. The question is where? Where are those jobs gonna go? Los Angeles or Chicago?” Emanuel said. “I know where I would like to see it. Right here.”
The road to getting that museum in Chicago has been rocky ever since the parks advocacy group Friends of the Parks sued the city to keep the museum off the lakefront. On Wednesday, the mayor said he had asked a federal appeals court to throw out that lawsuit.
In a statement, the mayor said “Friends of the Parks’ claims for federal relief are frivolous,” and the city can’t wait out what could be a lengthy court battle. Emanuel said that if the immediate review is denied, “the museum will abandon its efforts to locate in Chicago.”
On Tuesday night, Mellody Hobson, wife of George Lucas, released a passionate statement that she and her husband would seriously pursue locations outside of Chicago. Earlier in the day, Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry announced that her group couldn’t pursue the city’s backup Lucas Museum site proposal because it too relied on lakefront land. Hobson said that the nonprofit “co-opted and hijacked” the museum process from the beginning, and their decisions would “rob our state of more than $2 billion dollars in economic benefits, thousands of jobs and countless educational opportunities.”
“As an African American who has spent my entire life in this city I love, it saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer,” Hobson said.
For their part, Friends of the Parks says they believe there are other places in Chicago where the Lucas Museum could be built that could work for all parties. And while Irizarry said Hobson’s step is “regrettable” she added that “If the Lucases decide to locate the museum elsewhere besides Chicago, it is their decision and theirs alone.”
Lauren Chooljian covers city politics for WBEZ. Follow her @laurenchooljian.