U.S. District Judge John Darrah has given Friends of the Parks, a group opposing the planned lakeside location for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, an opportunity to respond to the city's request to dismiss their lawsuit.
The organization filed a lawsuit arguing that the plan violates the public trust because the space where the museum would be built used to be part of Lake Michigan and therefore should be designated for public use and protected. The Chicago City Council and Chicago Park District have already approved the plan and the latter has signed a contract to lease 17 acres of lakefront property between McCormick Place and Soldier Field. The 99-year lease gives the Lucas group access to the land for $10 and also provides them with an option to renew.
"It has to be consistent with the public trust," said Tom Geoghegan, the attorney representing the Friends of the Parks' case. "Just because they are arguing it is going to be for a public purpose doesn't give them a blank check to dispose of Park District land in any way they like."
Judge Darrah set the next hearing date for February 2 and although the Lucas team would like to start breaking ground in spring, construction cannot begin until the case has been finalized.