San Francisco has lost its bid for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum and Chicago’s lakefront location just south of Soldier Field “is a lock,” as first reported by the Chicago Sun-Times and since confirmed by the Chicago Tribune.

“Choosing Chicago is the right decision for the museum, but a difficult decision for me personally because of my strong personal and professional roots in the Bay Area,” said Lucas.

The museum’s board is expected to vote on the selection, and make it official, tomorrow.

In an attempt to overcome a loss of trust, so to speak, when the Presidio Trust pulled the rug out from under Lucas’ feet last year, Mayor Ed Lee had offered San Francisco’s Seawall Lot 330 along the Embarcadero to Lucas last month.  The Mayor’s offer was too little, too late.

Mayor Lee had also presented Lucas with the possibility of working in partnership with the City to build educational and open space upon the rotting Piers 30-32, across the Embarcadero from the Seawall Lot 330 site.  It’s safe to assume that Lucas will not be taking the Mayor up on that offer either.

64 thoughts on “San Francisco Loses Lucas Bid, Museum Headed To Chicago”
  1. If true, very dissapointing. I’m surprised Roddenberry was able to get Star Fleet located here. Oh, wait.

  2. “The decision to select Chicago reflects both a bungling of the billionaire’s legacy project by national park officials in San Francisco as well as an aggressive lobbying effort by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.”

    Definition of Bungling – carry out (a task) clumsily or incompetently, leading to failure or an unsatisfactory outcome.
    Definition of the word “Bungling”: make or be prone to making many mistakes.
    Synonyms of the word “Bungling”: incompetent, blundering, amateurish, inept, unskillful, maladroit, clumsy, klutzy, awkward, bumbling “the work of a bungling amateur”

    Heads should roll for this.

    1. Frankly, I think the National Park officials did a nice job of protecting national park space. The City may have been able to do a better job, perhaps.

      1. It’s one of the densest and most expensive cities in the country. Handing over large swaths of the City to the NPS – who try to manage it as though it were Yosemite wilderness (strip out the Monterey Pine! ban dogs! ban beach fires!) – was a huge mistake (the first of many, it turns out).

        1. I could not disagree with you more. Thank the Goddess the City of San Francisco does NOT control the Presidio and other federal lands in the city.

          First of all, the National Park Service is emphatically not managing its lands as though they “were Yosemite wilderness.” That’s either uninformed nonsense or blatant hyberbole. As for the Presidio specifically, the city could never have accomplished what the Presidio Trust has accomplished: habitat restoration and creek daylighting (not to mention saving endangered species), vast building renovation (including hundreds of residences), development of fantastic and hugely popular public spaces and facilities, and much more – all while meeting the Congressional requirement to make the Presidio pay its own way. A deep bow to the Presidio Trust and federal overseers of National Park lands in San Francisco!

          As for the Lucas Museum, I’d love for it to locate in the city, but at the same time, I applaud the Presidio Trust’s decision not to welcome it at Crissy Field. Wrong project, wrong place. And I don’t think the city can be fairly criticized for its failed effort: It had no say in the Presidio Trust’s decision and did its best to offer a compelling alternative. This is regrettable, but not a crushing loss.

          1. Well said. I think there may have been a place in SF for Lucas’ museum, but his renderings for a museum front and center at Crissy Field just looked awful. I don’t think there’s anything too terribly impressive about his collection, either.

          2. Yes, I’d much rather have a parking lot and derelict building there. It makes the “wilderness” so much more authentic. Your reasoning is flawed in that the “compelling alternative” was a terrible location. Lucas was going to spend $700 million in the Presidio, and they said no thanks we don’t need $700 million. The loons over at the trust will never find anyone to fork over that much money and the parking lot will still be there in 20 years.

        2. They have been destroying all the single track trails. Presidio no longer rustic. I can’t believe how many trees they’ve cut down over the past 5 years and the touristization of the coastal trail has been tragic

          1. It’s a sad when you have to share such a lovely stretch of coastline with foreigners!

            The Presidio has never been “rustic” unless you consider an almost entirely man-made and repeatedly-revised landscape as such.

    2. Why is it bungling? Why should the city pay anything for this piece of crap? I’d rather have the green space then the insipid uninspiring architecture that Lucas proposed.

      1. It isn’t green space. It is a derelict building and parking lot. I guess if you grew up in an urban area any grass growing through the cracks in the sidewalk counts as green space. Enjoy your parking lot.

  3. Hitman, it wasn’t SF politicians who arrogantly bungled this, it was the Presidio Trust. At least get your story straight.

    1. You believe your story and I’ll believe mine. The presidio site was lost because of the Presidio Trust. SF politicians lost to Chicago because of politics.

      1. Delusions aside, Curmudgeon is right, Lucas demanded that site and Trust did not agree – which is fine
        Rebuffed by Trust – and only interested in that one spot – Lucas took his marbles and left

  4. Never understood how a Star Wars museum fit into SF (at any proposed location).

    That said, as the Sun Times article points-out, Chicago already has a waterfront museum campus, so they’re well-prepared to add another building.

    The Presidio MIGHT have also hosted a museum campus, but the Fisher-haters prevented that from happening.

    1. There is still a potential fight over this in Chicago.

      Still, the museum is expected to draw opposition from open space advocates. Friends of the Parks has opposed the Soldier Field site because it would violate one of the 14 basic policies of the Lakefront Plan of Chicago, which prohibits further private development east of Lake Shore Drive.

      Since Lucas is expected to foot the bill for the Museum and putting the existing surface lots underground I guess it is technically ‘private development’.

      But considering the Museum is expected to only take up 5 of the 15 acres with the remaining 10 converted to green space. I am assuming the ‘Friends of the Park’ will be placated with seat at the table during the design phase or similar paid off by the Mayor’s office.

    2. The Fisher collection ended up in the best possible place including the starchitect-designed home. You win some and you lose some. The Fisher collection was a win of a magnitude that dwarfs this loss. That said, I agree about the arrogance of SF politicians and I hope they are all standing on pier 32 when it crumbles or burns.

  5. Good news. Instead of an eponymous freestanding building and institution (ugh) — Lucas could have collaborated with other arts institutions – Disney, Exploratorium, Movie Magic, SFPL Library etc. to bring his collection and programs to many. This is a city of collaboration; and he missed a huge opportunity. That said, I hope Chi gets a gorgeous building and won’t tolerate anything akin to the mini-mall stucco confection that was one of the proposals for Crissy Field.

    1. In reality, I think San Francisco is really a city of non-collaboration: a constant fight between endless factions and ideologies; endless public debate over every single change to our urban landscape. We simply do not know how to solve problems.

      Chicago does and more power to them.

      1. Very true. I think the polarization of politics in general over the past few years has contributed greatly to San Francisco’s problems. Despite different ideologies and viewpoints, you’ve got to find common ground if you want to get anything done.

          1. Well said Futurist. Couple this (museum) with his thwarted attempt to add low income housing in the North Bay which was shot down by NIMBY-ism and you get….Atlas shrugging. Way to go Chicago! WINNING.

  6. So disgusted with my favorite city in the world. No America’s Cup, no Lucas Museum, Prop B passed, crappy transit that’s only going to get worse (no Geary subway, no Van Ness subway, overcrowded Market lines)… we can’t even bury electrical wires in the neighborhoods, even though it would not only improve views and property values but be a step towards earthquake safety.

    But yeah, why try to improve things and make them better? Let’s just rest on our laurels like an aging diva.

    1. Oh yeah and a “Central Subway” that goes nowhere, notwithstanding the boring machine *already in place* and huge public support for the line to go all the way to the Wharf. *And*, the city about to sell off the old Pagoda Theater space, raising the cost of any future line station by a factor of 10 (or more).

      1. Chinatown isn’t “nowhere” to the people who live, work, and shop there. Why do you consider it nowhere?

    2. I agree exactly what you said. Same feelings. I was just in Chicago last week: beautiful city, amazing parks.

      1. i was in chicago too. truly beautiful buildings. unbelievable how poorly designed SF building are compared to Chicago

      2. I’m assuming you’re talking about 1/2 of Chicago? Surely you’re not including the full half of the city that’s a perpetual war zone and looks more rundown than anything in SF?

    3. Yeah, let’s lose more city money hosting the American’s Cup? Sounds like a great idea. Make things better by giving money away to billionaires. Fantastic slogan!

  7. This is great news. Why people get caught up in such things is beyond me. We don’t need a museum by George Lucas to be a great city. We don’t need to take up chunk of a great area with a monstrously ugly museum design so that we can showcase one person’s (in my opinion) ugly / boring art collection. Move it to Chicago, enjoy. I like Chicago well enough, and never intend to step foot into this museum, but for the people that do, have fun.

    1. Why do people who live in a city where tourism is the number one industry are upset over the loss of a potential major tourist attraction? Really? You don’t get that?

      You would never want to visit the Norman Rockwell collection? You would never want to see the works Lucas has collected that pre-date film, radio, and television?

      I understand not caring about the star wars memorabilia, but the collection is clearly much larger than that and of course, like any museum, it would have a rotating ‘special exhibits’.

      But hey, if SF doesn’t want the chance at a major tourist draw, a major construction project and long term jobs, as well as expanded green space/park land all at Lucas’s expense well … SF’s loss is Chicago’s win I guess.

      1. This argument obviously goes too far, unless you are really saying that you support bringing to SF anything that tourists will like. Getting rid of Golden Gate Park and replacing it with casinos or DisneyLand North would likely increase net tourism substantially. Not saying this is the same thing, but I do think taste is relevant. Personally, I’m with Sam and Fishchum on this. I fully supported the Fischer Museum plan, but George Lucas’s museum of schmaltz is a different thing entirely.

        You folks are free to move to Chicago if you really think it’s so much better than the Bay Area. Enjoy the miserable weather for 10 months a year and the midwestern rubes who think their city is great because the only other place they’ve lived is Kansas.

          1. So what you are saying is that if Lucas proposed a hospital then it would be okay?

          2. I think he’s saying if we can find a way to injure and hospitalize tourists while they are here, we can get a double dip win for the economy

  8. Meh. I won’t lose any sleep over this. I never cared for the renderings of the museum and would rather see Crissy Field preserved as open space than a museum dedicated to Lucas’ “art”.

  9. As a native and still part time Chicagoan I thank you, Presido Trust (with honorable mention for SF), for the extra billions in economic activity you have seen fit to bestow on my humble home. If there is anything else you don’t want please ship it COD to Chicago post haste…care of Rahm Emanuel.

  10. How many of you (who hate this outcome) have been to the Disney Museum? Now Walt was a great filmmaker!

  11. Chicago might be know for its corruption , and violence , but its leaders do have the power to make sure important decisions don’t get screwed up via committees

  12. The Star Wars museum may be just the thing for a lot of people — like Universal City and Disney Land. But to be honest, I think most people here could care less. Sorry PR hacks.

  13. I don’t understand why anyone was even slightly excited about having Lucas’s stupid collection of Star Wars artifacts here. Good riddance sending the whole raft of it to Chicago. I am still surprised anyone thought it was a good fit for Crissy Field.

  14. We really do not need a free-standing monument to George Lucas. Were he shrewd, he would have asked the De Young to support his proposal, assuring his collection would meet modern requirements for a museum of popular American culture. It is not impossible to have a popular culture museum that does not resemble Disneyland.

    In return for this, he would have donated $1 billion to the general acquisitions funds of the Fine Arts Museums, renewing their ability to expand the serious collections of the Legion and De Young.

    Had he done this, he would have gained support from many influential people, and he would have had his museum in SF.
    Since he did not, good luck Chicago. It is interesting that he did not want it in Los Angeles, the natural habitat for a museum about movies.

  15. The guy didn’t even direct the best film, “The Empire Strikes Back.” Bravo, SF. The world has enough Star Wars pap.

  16. Good! We don’t need the traffic, pollution, and ugly art and eyesore buildings.preserve SF’s parking lots, and save the bums! DON’T TOUCH OUR BUMS!!

  17. I love how knuckle dragging some of the SF urban hillbillies are. We don’t need no stinking fancy museum!

    By all means lets continue our plan of endless polling of the public and design by micky mouse committee.

    1. The “fancy museum” that looked like a mall? Begs the question who’s the real hillbilly….cough cough

  18. So, if the Mayor was prepared to make a deal with Lucas, why doesn’t he make a deal for someone to build some affordable housing there on the sea wall lots.

    1. Because the “deal” required Lucas to purchase the land for $30M. It’ll be hard to build affordable housing with an initial cost of $30M for the land alone.

      1. Not to mention it was going to be built with Lucas’s own money – developers need financing. Also, would love to see how the costs of ‘affordable housing’ pencil out on this lot, post-Prop B.

  19. This is a sad day for San Francisco. The Presidio Trust, overseen by socialite (emphasis on “lite”) Nancy Bechtle, has let a once in a generation opportunity, supported by almost everyone but her and a few Trust board members (none of whom are elected and none of whom answer to anyone) slip away. Generations of bay area residents will lose out on jobs, tax revenue, and “fun” as a result. It’s an unmitigated failure. A $700 million dollar museum. Poof. Gone.

    Listen up, Mayor Lee. Please make certain that any future “Trusts” set up on public land have at least one member appointed by the city to represent the interests of its citizens.

    1. Did you go to the public hearing to speak up? If not, then you failed your duties as an interested citizen. Your “almost everyone” comment is factually incorrect. Most of the public at the January hearing were in support of delaying a decision on this site.

    2. The Presidio Trust is a federal agency within the Interior Dept created by an act of Congress. The board are presidential appointees.

      Not much any mayor can do about that.

  20. When and if it gets built in Chicago– I’ll go visit it. Otherwise Lucas’ decision to take it to Chicago made my week. Maybe someone will step forward with a few millions to return the site to coastal meadow– the trust has been doing great things with habitat restoration and stream daylighting. The only way I could have supported this self-aggrandizing monument to Lucas’ ego is if he paid to extend the F along the Marina and Crissy Field to the Main Parade.

  21. Oh, its really good that we have qualified art critics on socketsite. Im sure that if SF had the chance to get the tate collection moved here we would find reasons to rebuff the offer and rationalize it as ‘ not really needed.”

    This is another display of incompetence whether it is the PreTrust or the City. You cannot lose things like this. Chicago is celebrating; and we are the over entitled joke. again.

    Dot Com capital boom is for now keeping this little luxury yacht afloat (thats SF), it will burst and CA will bankrupt again, and we will wonder how we turned down a $500 MIL capital investment because it wasnt good enough.

    Remember a few years ago we were groveling for s boat race.

  22. This now probably locks in the future of pier 30/32 and SWL330. My bet is that the Army Corps of Engineers will tear out the pier and the SWL will end up a 5-7 story parking garage. Done.

  23. Agree with Mr. E. Park Service did the right thing, and Mayor Lee screwed it up beyond recognition, as he is so apt to do with just about everything he touches. Expect only more of this so long as Capt. Loser runs the ship into the ground.

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