Mayor Rahm Emanuel is making a last-ditch legal move to try and keep the Lucas Museum – and all the jobs and investment that go with it – from leaving Chicago.
"The mayor is asking for that lawsuit that started all this trouble – from Friends of the Parks – he's asking an appeals court to throw it out entirely," said WBEZ’s Lauren Chooljian.
The lawsuit filed by the preservation group was in response to the original lakefront location for the museum: a parking lot just south of Soldier Field.
The group was not available for comment Wednesday on the mayor's latest move, but did respond to a strongly worded statement released Tuesday by Chicago executive Mellody Hobson, wife of the “Star Wars” movie mogul George Lucas.
"Today, the Friends of the Parks said, 'If they're going to go outside the city for this museum, it's not the fault of the Friends of the Parks, it's the Lucas family's decision to do that,'" said Chooljian.
On Tuesday, Hobson accused Friends of the Parks of hijacking the process and “refusing to accept the extraordinary benefits of the museum” after the group declared its opposition to any lakefront site for the museum, including an alternative proposal at McCormick Place East.
Even activist the Rev. Michael Pfleger has castigated the Friends of the Parks as “elitist individuals who want control of the lakefront.” Hobson said they are now seriously looking at options outside of Chicago as the famed director grows weary of opposition to the project.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Wednesday took aim at the preservation group’s abrupt about-face after agreeing to pause its lawsuit over the construction of the museum near Soldier Field.
“After having productive conversations with Friends of the Parks, and after the organization agreed to stay its lawsuit, their abrupt and complete change of position has proven that they cannot be trusted, and we will not allow them to hold this project hostage any longer,” Emanuel said in a statement. “As Mellody Hobson's recent comments indicate, Chicago will lose the museum and its tremendous economic benefits if this lawsuit is not resolved.
"Friends of the Parks’ claims for federal relief are frivolous, and we can no longer wait for the completion of legal proceedings to correct these legal errors on appeal,” the statement continued. “Due to the extraordinary circumstances here, if immediate review is denied, there will be no litigation to appeal, as the museum will abandon its efforts to locate in Chicago.”
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May 3: “We are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago,” Mellody Hobson, wife of movie mogul George Lucas and board member of the Lucas Museum, said in a statement. “If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks and that is no victory for anyone.”
April 26: As Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushes McCormick Place as the new location for the Lucas Musuem, a group of faith and community leaders met Tuesday to throw their support behind the plan. WBEZ's Lauren Chooljian will bring us the latest.
April 18: The Chicago Tribune's Pulitzer prize-winning architecture critic discusses a new lakefront proposal for the Lucas Museum and architecturally significant churches like St. Adalbert's in Pilsen that preservationists warn are at risk.
April 15: A new lakefront location for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art is being proposed in Chicago. Mellody Hobson, wife of movie mogul George Lucas and board member of the Lucas Museum, calls it a “good idea.”
Feb. 25: Earlier this month, a judge denied the city of Chicago's motion to let Lucas Museum construction begin on its proposed lakefront site. We speak with the head of Friends of the Parks, the nonprofit which filed the lawsuit.
Feb. 23: Fr. Michael Pfleger took to social media on Tuesday to openly criticize nonprofit Friends of the Parks for the continued legal delays preventing film mogul George Lucas from starting construction on his proposed lakefront museum. Do you think the construction holdup is warranted?
As Lucas Museum Eyes Other Locations, City Pushes for Construction to Begin
Feb. 17: During a Wednesday court hearing, an attorney representing the city of Chicago said museum officials are considering other locations, including other cities for the project.
Case Against Lucas Museum Moves Forward
Feb. 4: The city's move to dismiss a case against the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art was thrown out Thursday in federal court, paving the way for a longer fight and potentially delaying the museum's spring construction plans.
Lucas Museum Passes City Council, Could Break Ground By Spring
Oct. 28, 2015: Though almost unanimously approved Wednesday, the museum could still be stopped by a pending lawsuit.