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Judge says green space advocates have 'no viable complaints' as Lucas Museum scales back plans for legacy project

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In response to a lawsuit aiming to halt development of George Lucas’ legacy project on Chicago’s waterfront, a revised proposal for the Lucas Museum – which includes a scaled-back building design with more green space – was unveiled during a federal court hearing on 10 September.

The new designs force Friends of the Parks – the nonprofit group suing in an attempt to halt development on the Chicago waterfront – to adjust its lawsuit after district judge John Darrah told the group they had “no viable complaint”.

According to judge Darrah, with the new ground lease agreement between the Chicago Park District and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, Friends of the Parks have not filed anything that challenges the amended plans. "It appears the basis for your complaint as presented by you has been superseded," said the judge at the hearing.

The new proposal will reduce the overall size of the museum by 25 per cent, from the original seven-storey, 400,000sq ft (37,100sq m) plans to the new designs which will be around 300,000sq ft (27,900sq m). It is not known how this will affect the original designs or what will be cut from the museum to achieve this. Beijing-based MAD Architects are principal designers for the project, while Chicago-based Studio Gang will work on the landscape. In addition, VOA Associates, based in Chicago, will serve as the executive architect and lead the implementation of MAD’s design.

The new ground lease agreement sees the the lakefront land between Soldier Field and McCormick Place handed to Lucas for US$10 (€8.87, £6.48) for a renewable period of 99 years with the new plan detailing 200,000sq ft (18,615sq m) of new parkland for open space advocates. The museum itself will house George Lucas’ personal art collection, as well as providing temporary exhibition space for world-renowned artists and filmmakers. The parkland will include an eco-park, garden, sand dune field and an event prairie to host art and film events.

There is no cost for the new development plans, though the previous version was valued at around US$300m (€266m, £194.4m). The new ground lease also says that the Lucas Museum will contribute US$40m (€35.4m, £26m) for a new parking facility with at least 1,500 spaces to replace the spaces lost on the land where the museum is to be developed.

The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, was unveiled in November last year after Star Wars and Indiana Jones creator, George Lucas selected Chicago to be the museum’s home. The park district signed a preliminary agreement with Lucas last September, proposing the 17-acre site to house the museum.

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In response to a lawsuit aiming to halt development of George Lucas’ legacy project on Chicago’s waterfront, a revised proposal for the Lucas Museum – which includes a scaled- back building design with more green space – was unveiled during a federal court hearing on 10 September.
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