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Parks Group Halts Lakefront Lucas Museum Lawsuit

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With the lawsuit on hold, compromise may be reached

MAD Architects

The nonprofit Friends of the Parks advocacy group has announced that it has halted its lawsuit against the City of Chicago’s plan allowing Star Wars creator George Lucas to build his controversial art museum at a lakefront site occupied by a parking lot, according to the Chicago Tribune's Blair Kamin.

The breaking news comes on the heels of a request by the city seeking a 30-day delay in legal proceedings to better explore a backup plan that would see the cultural institution moved south of the contentious parking lot, instead replacing the Lakeside Center convention hall. While it was reported yesterday that Friends of the Parks had no objections with the city’s request for the month-long pause, today’s proactive announcement from the group is an encouraging sign that some semblance of consensus-building and compromise is occurring behind the scenes.

A recent rendering of the Museum on the alternative Lakeside Center site.
MAD Architects

With the group adding the caveat that it could restart legal proceedings if deemed necessary, it is still too early to say what a compromised solution could look like. With the Friends of the Park now granted a seat at the mayor’s table, it’s still possible (albeit unlikely) that the museum could end up at the city’s original site — provided all parties are on board. On the other hand, if City Hall has completely written-off the parking lot site in pursuit of its expensive Lakeside Center plan, it would make sense for the group to halt its legal challenge since the new location would render their current suit moot. The group also hopes to discuss non-lakefront locations, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

Today’s announcement undoubtedly bodes well for the prospect of Chicago keeping the museum. It shows both Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the FotP are open to talking about solutions. With the lawsuit now on ice, they have all the time in the world to reach a compromise — assuming, of course, a certain bearded benefactor doesn’t lose patience and take his stacks of art and money elsewhere.

UPDATE: Greg Hinz of Crain's Chicago Business reports that shortly following the group's announcement to halt its lawsuit today, Friends of the Parks took an official position on City Hall's alternative lakefront site, rejecting Emanuel's plan to move the Lucas museum to Lakeside Center. With both lakefront sites off the table, the odds of the Star Wars creator taking his museum to another city appear more likely.