New George Lucas museum plan requires borrowing $1.2B

A new plan for George Lucas’ proposed museum calls for the creator of Star Wars to write a check that is nearly out of this world, for $743 million.

It’s part of a complicated deal to build both his museum and new convention space at McCormick Place. 

While a federal lawsuit continues to block the selection of a final site for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and Chicagoans debate, the Mayor warned other cities are eager to grab the project.

“There's a reason Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco would like Chicago to fumble here. And there's a reason we all have to work together not to fumble,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Emanuel's new proposal is his latest and possibly last effort to settle the dispute. It calls for demolishing the half-century old McCormick Place Lakeside Center, and building the museum at the southern end of the site. The remaining 12 acres would be returned to parkland, which is Emanuel's bid to please lakefront protection activists who've so far blocked the museum in court. They could not immediately be reached for comment.

Another big question mark: the plan needs feuding factions in the General Assembly and Gov. Bruce Rauner to approve $1.2 billion in new borrowing. The mayor, though, thinks he can sell it.

“There's going to be no change in the sense of any new taxpayer support for this effort. I think this is a win, win, win,” Emanuel said.

George Lucas's wife, Mellody Hobson, said he wants to move quickly to start construction. At the age of 73, she said, he's concerned that he might not live to see it built and operating.

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