Mayor Emanuel: George Lucas museum a boon for Chicago
By Mike Flannery, FOX 32 News Political Editor - bio | email
CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -
Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that he's "confident" the George Lucas museum will be built south of Soldier Field, despite a threatened court challenge. Critics claim Chicago's ‘Lakefront Protection Ordinance’ effectively rules out that site.
Parking lots now occupy most of the new museum's proposed 17-acre site south of Soldier Field. Movie mogul George Lucas promises to put all that parking underground if allowed to build his new Museum of Narrative Art there. He also promises 5 more acres of green space than there is currently.
For now, Mayor Emanuel is the proposal's salesman in chief, emphasizing what one study found it could bring to a city desperate for jobs and growth.
“The economic impact would be $2 billion. The job creation, construction is 1,500 jobs; permanent: 400-500; $150 million of additional tax revenue that we wouldn't get otherwise,” said Emanuel.
While many were pleased by the prospect, Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg summarized his deep misgivings by referring to the 20th Century's nearly forgotten sci-fi characters Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. Steinberg fears the Lucas museum may rely too heavily on its founder's own sci-fi Star Wars creations.
“I'm hoping when they sit down and say, ‘What are we gonna do with our billion dollars?’ that it's not just some shrine to Lucas. Because that's gonna get old quick,” said Steinberg.
The legal battle to block the new museum was seemingly already underway Wednesday morning on Good Day Chicago. The President of Friends of the Parks said that she's going to court, because the project would violate Chicago's longstanding ‘Lakefront Protection Ordinance.’
“We do have a number of corporations, organizations and other parts of the community that will be joining us in opposing the site,” said Cassandra Francis of Friends of the Parks.
The museum campus now showcases things found on land, in water and in the sky. With Northerly Island's rebirth as an outdoor museum of the Great Lakes environment, the mayor argues Lucas would make it a complex rivalled only by the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.