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George Lucas Drops Plans for Museum in Chicago

The ongoing drama surrounding the George Lucas Museum in Chicago has come to an end.

After years of controversy, Lucas announced that he was scrapping plans of building a museum of his art collection on the city’s lakefront on Friday. Group Friends of Parks filed a lawsuit against the project in November 2014, putting it on hold indefinitely.

“No one benefits from continuing their seemingly unending litigation to protect a parking lot,” Lucas said in the statement on Friday. “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.”

The “Star Wars” creator will now attempt to build the museum in California. Lucas also thanked Chicago officials for working with him on the project, and vowed to continue support for the Midwest’s city’s culture. His wife, Mellody Hobson, is from Chicago.

“We are deeply appreciative to Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Gov. Bruce Rauner and countless others for all the time and effort they invested in trying to secure the museum for Chicago,” he said. “While Chicago will not be home to the museum, my wife and I will continue to enthusiastically support a wide variety of educational and cultural activities throughout the city.”

Despite recent hints at a compromise, Friends of Parks refused to withdraw its lawsuit, and continued to urge Lucas to find another location for his museum. The group argued that the project would tarnish the city’s lakefront, and benefit a private party more than Chicago’s residents.

“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,” Friends of the Parks executive director Juanita Irizarry and board chair Lauren Moltz said in a statement on Friday in response to Lucas’ announcement.

Emanuel also issued a response on Friday, saying that Chicago has lost a “once-in-a-generation opportunity.”

“Unfortunately, time has run out, and the moment we’ve consistently warned about has arrived,” Emanuel said. “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.”

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