By DON BABWIN
CHICAGO (AP) _ “Star Wars” creator George Lucas has selected Chicago to house his much anticipated museum of art and movie memorabilia, a spokesman for the mayor’s office said Tuesday.
The decision is a major victory for the nation’s third-largest city, which was locked in a battle for the museum with San Francisco. Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for Mayor Rahm Emanuel, confirmed that Lucas had selected Chicago but did not immediately have any details.
A spokesman for Lucas did not immediately return a call seeking comment. A message was left with the San Francisco mayor’s office.
The selection was somewhat of a surprise, given Lucas’ close ties to San Francisco and California. He is a native of the state, Lucasfilm’s visual effects division is based in the city and the headquarters for LucasFilm and Skywalker Sound is across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County. Los Angeles had also bid for the museum.
But Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s former chief of staff, pushed hard for Chicago, just as he is pushing hard to persuade his former boss to build his presidential museum in the city. Chicago was always given a good chance, in large part because Lucas’ wife, Mellody Hobson, a prominent businesswoman, is from Chicago. The city closed down Promontory Point on the lakefront so the couple could host a star-studded party to celebrate after Lucas’ California wedding.
Lucas has called Chicago his “second home.”
The city offered up a slice of real estate along the Lake Michigan shore that is near other attractions, including the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum of Natural History. At the same time, San Francisco suffered a setback when the city rejected Lucas’ first choice of a location near the Golden Gate Bridge.
Emanuel has long been trying to portray Chicago as a global destination, and throughout the decision process, a spokesman for Lucas praised Chicago for the attention it heaps on culture, architecture, innovations and education _ some of which are the themes Lucas’ museum will seek to promote.