CHICAGO (AP) — The city of Chicago on Tuesday asked a federal judge to lift an order barring "Star Wars" creator George Lucas from starting construction on a $400 million museum along Chicago's lakefront while litigation plays out.
The filing comes in the wake of a ruling that allows a lawsuit by a nonprofit group trying to scuttle the project. Friends of the Parks says the 300,000-square-foot Lucas Museum of Narrative Art would violate laws restricting development along Lake Michigan.
The city's filing argues that letting the lawsuit move ahead doesn't mean museum opponents will eventually prevail.
"To the contrary, the denial of a motion to dismiss represents nothing more than a conclusion that plaintiffs' claims cross the starting line for a federal lawsuit, not that they are likely to cross the finish line in triumph," the legal brief says.
It contends leaving an injunction in place prohibiting construction "now puts the entire project at risk" because the museum may choose to leave Chicago and relocate to another city.
Lucas chose Chicago over San Francisco for the museum after saying the California city was "doodling around," while Chicago officials aggressively pursued the project. Construction at the site south of Soldier Field was expected to start this spring
"The preliminary injunction thus threatens the very public interest it is bound to protect: the loss of the LMNA would deprive the city of a world-class museum and all the attendant educational, cultural, and economic benefits, as well as depriving the city of a more beneficial use for the museum site than the current asphalt parking lot," the city of Chicago argues.
In his written opinion released earlier this month, Judge John Darrah explained that he was rejecting the city's request to toss the lawsuit because he thinks Friends of the Parks makes plausible arguments that turning over the land "is not for the benefit of the public but will impair public interest in the land ... and promote private ... commercial interests."