Friends of the Park: 'No negotiations currently over Lucas Museum'

CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) - The not-for-profit group Friends of the Parks says they are willing to negotiate about the new Lucas Museum slated to be built along Chicago’s lakefront but they are not dropping a lawsuit to block the project.

George Lucas, the billionaire creator of the Star Wars movie and products franchise, is now negotiating to build his museum in San Francisco, possibly on Treasure Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay. Sources tell FOX 32 News they may announce a deal out there in, "a matter of weeks, not months."

Lucas's plan to put his museum of narrative art on Chicago's lakefront south of Soldier Field got tangled up in court, because of a lawsuit filed by Friends of the Parks.

The not-for-profit group wants Lucas to put his museum somewhere other than along the lakefront.

A story in The Sun-Times Friday morning suggested last-ditch, last-minute bargaining was underway which might result in the group dropping its lawsuit.

FOX 32 News has learned that there have been "conversations" but the lawyer for Friends of the Parks says, "No negotiations are taking place currently between the city and Friends of the Parks."

Mayor Emanuel would love to save it for Chicago, but was very careful not to raise hopes when he talked to FOX 32's Mike Flannery on Friday.

"I believe and I'm commited to trying to find a way that all of us in this city, who love this city, and people of different views can work together and have a situation where Chicago's cultural plans and open space which are part of who we are as a city, work together in enriching this city economically, culturally and educationally," Emanuel said.

In a written statement, Friends of the Parks shot down talk of a late-breaking deal.

"Contrary to recent reports, our board remains fully united on the preservation of our lakefront and ensuring that the public trust doctrine is not ignored. We do believe that the Lucas Museum has a place in Chicago for all to enjoy, but not at the expense of one our most precious public resources. We have always said we were open to discussions. Anything else you hear is rumor and speculation."

The final line of their statement was the killer.

"We are not dropping the lawsuit," the statement said.

Without that happening in very short order, George Lucas will soon be breaking ground in California.

The group wants assurances that the museum will be a unique space, that McCormick Place East will be torn down when it's outlived its usefulness and turned into green space, and additional green space will be provided by the city in exchange.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is also promising adding four more miles of lakefront in exchange.

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