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September 16, 2014

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Chicago mayor: George Lucas museum boon for city

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Lucasfilm Ltd. / AP

In this March 1976 publicity photo, director George Lucas and actor Mark Hamill, who portrays Luke Skywalker, are shown on the salt flats of Tunisia during principal photography of the original “Star Wars.”

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"Darth Vader" accepts the Ultimate Villain award from "Star Wars" creator George Lucas during the Scream Awards in Los Angeles, Oct. 15, 2011.

CHICAGO — The addition of 'Star Wars' creator George Lucas' museum of art and movie memorabilia to Chicago will give the city a museum campus as impressive as the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C., Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Wednesday.

Lucas announced a day earlier that he had picked Chicago for his museum. The Lucas Museum of Narrative Art will be within walking distance of the Field Museum of Natural History, the Adler Planetarium and the Shedd Aquarium along Lake Michigan.

"You have the ability to look into the past, the present and into the future," Emanuel told reporters after Wednesday's City Council meeting.

Lucas' selection of Chicago over Los Angeles and San Francisco is considered a major coup for Emanuel, who aggressively made his city's case for the project. On Wednesday, Emanuel said the Lucas museum will mean 1,500 construction jobs and as many as 500 permanent jobs. He said it will also be a major tourist attraction will generate millions of dollars in tax revenues for the city.

One potential problem is a possible lawsuit from those who say the project violates the city's lakefront protection ordinance. But the mayor said, "We feel very comfortable from a legal perspective where we are," explaining that the Lucas project will be part of an existing museum campus.

Emanuel also said the Lucas museum makes economic sense for the city, which would lease the land to the museum for $1 a year.

"Our contribution is two parking lots," he said. "The contribution to build the museum? George Lucas."

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