An inside look at Chicago real estate

Chicago Strikes Back, Lands Lucas Museum

Mark.Miles By
Mark Miles
   | Celebrity, Chicago News
George Lucas

Star Wars creator George Lucas by Joi Ito.

It was a long drawn out battle between the empire of the West Coast and the rebel alliance of Chicago for the right to land the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art (LMNA), but it in the end, the force was with the Windy City.

The museum, which will be home to over 500,000 artifacts and memorabilia from the “Star Wars” director’s personal archives, beat out both Los Angeles and San Francisco to land in Chicago. The structure will be built on two parking lots located near Solider Field, according to NBC Chicago.

Despite the filmmaker’s vast fortune, Mayor Rahm Emanuel offered to lease the 17-acre parcel to Lucas for just $1, which falls in line with deals other cultural institutions in the city have with the Park District.

According to the official Star Wars website, Lucas said the following regarding the future museum: “We are honored to be partnering with the city of Chicago and the many cultural, educational and community groups that have come forward with ideas about how the LMNA will add to their vibrant work. 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.”

The museum, which still has to go before the Chicago Plan Commission, will be dedicated to narrative art with the aim of inspiring and educating future generations reports NBC News. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the museum will be completely self-funded by Lucas.

So how did Chicago beat out Lucas’ home state of California in addition to 50 other possible sites to land the museum? According to CNN, Chicago was picked thanks to the quality of the site proposed by the city’s task force and the ability to offer unparalleled visitor access. It also doesn’t hurt that Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, is a Chicago native.

There is a disturbance in the force however. Lakefront protection activists are opposed to using the lakefront pubic open space as home to the museum reports Chicago Business. The Lakefront Protection Ordinance states that “in no instance will further private development be permitted east of Lake Shore Drive” according to Friends of the Parks. Lucas might have to use some Jedi mind tricks to soothe the activists’ worries.

While there is no word yet on exactly how much the museum will cost nor what it will look like, Lucas’ goal is to open the LMNA by 2018. Architectural plans are set to be submitted to the city in early fall.

“I can’t thank George and Mellody enough for choosing Chicago,” Emanuel said according to NBC Chicago. “This will be a tremendous opportunity, a significant step for the city. No other major American city has these types of cultural and educational institutions, with a great Northerly Island creating a vibrant, green museum campus unparalleled in the United States.”