Chicago City Council approves 'Star Wars' filmmaker Lucas' museum

Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:22pm EDT
 
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By Karl Plume

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Chicago's city council on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a museum, proposed by "Star Wars" filmmaker George Lucas, that has been touted as an economic and cultural benefit but also criticized as an eyesore on protected lakefront property.

The council, which had just passed a new budget with steep property tax increases, did not discuss the museum, which will be located south of the Soldier Field stadium in a place where there are currently parking lots.

Only a small handful of aldermen voted against the museum, which will feature Lucas' collection of paintings, illustrations and digital art.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel has backed the project, saying it will create jobs and expand cultural opportunities on the lakefront, where there are other museums, arenas and parks.

"We have a museum and all the cultural and economic enrichment that comes with it," Emanuel told reporters after the meeting.

The design for the building, which looks like a gleaming white mountain with a silver halo on top, has been modified in response to criticism that an early version was too intrusive.

The Chicago Bears football team, which plays at Soldier Field, also successfully pressured for changes to the initial design, winning back space for fans who have tailgate parties outside the stadium before games.

A Chicago parks protection group sued the city last year to block the museum, saying it would violate an Illinois state trust meant to ensure the area is kept free and open for access to activities on Lake Michigan. The lawsuit is ongoing.

(Writing by Fiona Ortiz; Additional reporting by Mary Wisniewski; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn)