The Friends of the Parks group is opposing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's plan to demolish McCormick Place East in order to provide space for the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art.
And now George Lucas and his wife Mellody Hobson say they are "seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago."
Emanuel announced the McCormick Place East backup plan last month after an initial proposal to have the Lucas Museum built on lakefront property just south of Soldier Field became caught up in court over a lawsuit filed by Friends of the Parks.
Friends of the Parks announced Tuesday it had agreed to suspend its lawsuit, a move the group said "will give all parties the chance to have a more direct and productive dialogue to find a museum site that satisfies them."
Despite that announcement, Friends of the Parks said it opposes the new Lucas Museum plan for McCormick Place East, saying it favors a "non-lakefront" site for the attraction.
"We do oppose the deal that's on the table," Friends of the Parks Executive Director Juanita Irizarry told the Chicago Tribune. "We maintain there should not be development on the lakefront."
The organization is weighing legal action against the city over the McCormick Place East proposal.
In light of these developments, Hobson said she and her husband "are now seriously pursuing locations outside of Chicago."
"If the museum is forced to leave, it will be because of the Friends of the Parks and that is no victory for anyone," Hobson's statement said. "As an African American who has spent my entire life in this city I love, it saddens me that young black and brown children will be denied the chance to benefit from what this museum will offer. . . . In refusing to accept the extraordinary public benefits of the museum, the Friends of the Parks has proven itself to be no friend of Chicago."
Prior to Hobson's comments, Emanuel spokeswoman Shannon Breymaier issued a statement responding to the Friends of the Parks' position.
"We're disappointed and baffled at Friends of the Parks' comments, which are contradictory to the decision they made less than 24 hours ago to stay the lawsuit," the statement reads. "Friends of the Parks has taken inconsistent and incoherent positions, making it impossible to work with them."
UPDATE 1 (7:17 p.m.): Rev. Jesse Jackson, founder an president of the Rainbow PUSH organization, voiced his displeasure with the Friends of the Parks' decision to oppose the latest proposed site for the Lucas Museum. Jackson issued the following statement appealing to the group Tuesday evening:
I'm saddened that the Friends of the Parks says it will oppose the new proposed site for the Lucas Museum, a billion dollar philanthropic investment that will create more lakefront parkland and greenery, more jobs, more inclusion, more tax base and more educational and cultural opportunities for our city's children.
We share the zeal of the Friends of the Parks to protect our cherished green space and lakefront. But the Rainbow PUSH Coalition is making a moral appeal to the Friends of Parks to reconsider its opposition to a project that will bring so much to Chicago. The Lucas Museum will add nearly 13 more acres of green space on our beloved lakefront.
If necessary, we too will be in the courts and the streets, arguing for this once-in-a generation opportunity. In the history of our country there has never been a philanthropic gift of this size and scale from an African American, in this case an African American woman from Chicago. As I said before, it is time to stop the obstruction and start the construction.