Star Wars creator George Lucas has confirmed that he is pulling his MAD-designed museum from Chicago and plans to move the project to America’s West Coast.
The film director said he is ceasing his bid to build the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, which will include exhibits from the science fiction movies, on a lakefront car park in the city, after an ongoing lawsuit attempting to block the building.
The injunction has threatened the project since it was filed in November 2014 by an organisation called Friends of the Parks, which argues that the museum is a private development on public land and would spoil the area.
“No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot,” Lucas said in a statement.
“The actions initiated by Friends of Parks and their recent attempts to extract concessions from the city have effectively overridden approvals received from numerous democratically elected bodies of government.”
Lucas appointed Beijing architecture studio MAD and local firm Studio Gang to work on the design of the museum, which would display his personal art collection.
Plans for the 27,870m2 building were approved by the City Council in October 2015, after MAD scaled down its initial plans. But Friends of the Parks continued with legal proceedings.
Reports earlier this month stated that Friends of the Parks was willing to back the revised plan, but then changed its mind. Regardless, the deadline for negotiations was last week.
“It is unfortunate that the Lucas Museum has made the decision to leave Chicago rather than locate the museum on one of several alternative sites that is not on Chicago’s lakefront. That would have been the true win-win,” said a joint statement from Friends of the Parks executive director Juanita Irizarry and board chair Lauren Moltz.
“Unfortunately, time has run out, and the moment we’ve consistently warned about has arrived,” said Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Chicago’s loss will be another city’s gain.”
“We tried to find common ground to resolve the lawsuit — the sole barrier preventing the start of the museum’s construction.
“But despite our best efforts to negotiate a common solution that would keep this tremendous cultural and economic asset in Chicago, Friends of the Parks chose to instead negotiate with themselves while Lucas negotiated with cities on the West Coast.”
Lucas is now searching for sites in California, including San Francisco and Los Angeles, where mayor Eric Garcetti has already backed the potential move.
“The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would be perfect for Los Angeles,” Garcetti said in a statement. “Tens of millions of people visit our city every year — and LA has unquestioned stature as a world arts capital.”