Lucas Cultural Arts Museum 2016 Design

George Lucas and his museum Board have officially abandoned their plans to build the $700 million Lucas Museum of Narrative Art in Chicago and declared that the museum will be built in California, but without a specific city being named.

Mayor Ed Lee has been lobbying for Lucas to set his sights on the west side of Treasure Island, facing San Francisco. But having already been spurned and burned in San Francisco, which led his team out of the frying pan and into the great Chicago fire of 2015/2016, convincing Lucas that an attempt to build on Treasure Island won’t be déjà vu all over again is likely to be a battle that’s not easily won.

And while it’s true that the redevelopment of Treasure Island is already underway with a certified Environmental Impact Report (EIR) in hand, and that the approved plans “allow for [the] construction of either a museum or community facilities on Treasure Island,” the magnitude of Lucas’ proposed project, in terms of the expected traffic it would generate, could easily cast doubts on the adequacy of the approved EIR should a challenge be mounted.

Los Angeles has been actively courting Lucas as well.

36 thoughts on “Lucas Abandons Chicago Museum Plan, It’s Headed Back to California”
  1. Access/traffic alone preclude this as being feasible to build on TI.

    It’ll end up in SOCAL almost for sure but on the outside chance it comes to the Bay Area Oakland would be an option – in the Coliseum City area. Great transportation access. Or perhaps the SV? Near Levis Stadium?

    1. The museum can subsidize the water taxi that’s already slated to be put into service – it’d be like riding the automated trolley cars at the Getty in Los Angeles – and those subsidies can provide more frequent water taxi service, for longer hours during the day. That would benefit not only museum-goers, but the future residents of (and visitors to) T.I. as well.

    2. Not if the museum itself funded and ran as part of its plan frequent ferry service from Fisherman’s Wharf and the Ferry Building and if it was designed to make that THE way to get to it.

    3. Great comment Dave as usual. You must be President of NIMBY town. My bet is that it will be built on TI with great Ferry access paid for by Lenar.

  2. Technically, it was The Presidio that spurned Lucas the first time (and rightfully so), not the city of San Francisco.

    1. Exactly. The Presidio Trust was the active opponent, and the problem of ostensibly public land. Elsewhere in San Francisco could still be possible. Treasure Island seems as viable as anywhere in the Bay area.

  3. Why is traffic an issue? This museum’s traffic would be counter commute. If anything it will help justify more frequent ferry service by filling the boats that would otherwise return empty.

    1. Yes, and in fact as I note above, presumably the museum could help subsidize the service (making it more viable, by having more frequent service for longer hours of the day). Even without a subsidy, the increased visitor use of the water taxis might make it economically viable to extend their hours and frequency of service.

      Long story short, I’d love to see a beautiful world-class architectural building across from The Embarcadero, *and* I’d love to see a bay that has a small flotilla of water taxis bustling back and forth. I think it has incredible potential for our city.

      1. Yeah I’m sure Lucas can’t wait to build a world class museum that will fall into the bay during the next moderate earthquake.

    2. I also thought the same – note that the current MUNI bus to TI runs all the time not just during rush hour, so a ferry would need to run more frequently also. Tourists are already fine taking expensive ferries to angel island, alcatraz, or even just puttering around in the bay, so just include the ferry ride in muni ‘A’ pass for residents, but charge out the wazoo for single rides to those going to the museum – maybe it might even pay for the darn thing.

  4. Stop trying to make Treasure Island happen. Treasure Island is not going to happen.

    Put it in the Presidio, doesn’t the federal government have precedence over SF in land use there? Or Mission Bay, or Candlestick area.

    1. Didn’t realize that the Presidio was his first choice.. so now realizing a 72 year old man that wants this to happen ASAP, I highly doubt SF and its endless bickering and legal battles is in his radar any longer.

  5. there’s some idea that it could go out on treasure island, but the belief among plugged-in types in chicago is that it’s going to LA, on the USC campus.

  6. why plan for a museum on TI but apparently only if it has a small magnitude and low attendence so as to not be too impactful to the infrastructure? who would sign up for opening that up?

  7. Best place for all would be on the seawall lot opposite Piers 30-32 with them restored for recreational uses on Lucas’ dime. Would provide balance of attractions with the northern waterfront, give added purpose to the E Embarcadero and finally resolve possibly the thorniest of Bay land use issues.

  8. How about Alcatraz? He can combine the museum with a resort so all the Star Wars fanatics can be corralled away from the city, reachable only by boat. Surrounded by sharks.

  9. With all the talk of Treasure Island development, I remember ten years ago all the talk was about stabilizing the landfill mass and its attendant astronomical cost. What happened to those concerns?

  10. It should be against public policy to use scarce public funding to pay for more development by building structures on Treasure Island due to the liquefaction issue during earthquake.

    Treasure Island development would be as foolhardy as building in a flood plain. San Francisco already has unfunded liabilities just defending the Embarcadero against rising sea levels.

    1. Who said anything about public money? If anything, if you put uses out there on the currently unused land, you’re increasing property values on the remaining land on Treasure Island, increasing City tax revenue.

      1. Then we are in complete agreement regarding not using public funds?

        Yes, if Lucas chooses to purchase the land from the City it would be a great plus for property tax revenue.

        My concern is not committing San Francisco residents to rescue Treasure Island developers due to their poor decisions due to earthquake instability and rising sea levels.

  11. If this museum were located on treasure Island I would be very surprised if it attracted more than 100,000 visitors per year. The art collection Lucas has assembled simply won’t draw a larger crowd than that, it is very interesting to him no doubt, but not a major cultural asset in any way. Which is a way of saying I don’t think it will present any substantial traffic issues, Due to low visitation. Interested to see the feasibility study, which would be a necessary component of any public review

  12. It would be awesome to have this museum on Treasure Island and agree with the posters above who suggested expanded ferry service makes sense. Perhaps make the ferry service mandatory to discourage additional car trips on the Bay Bridge and incorporate the roundtrip fee into the cost of the admission ticket. I’m sure tourists (and locals alike) would eat that up in a second. Who doesn’t enjoy a boat ride now and then?

    1. You can’t make it mandatory, but you could offer a combined ferry/museum ticket at a very reduced price. Incentivize people NOT to drive. You could also cross-market with the Exploratorium. A one-day ticket includes admission to Lucas Museum & Exploratorium & ferry ride.

      1. You can make it effectively mandatory, by not having museum parking. That’s exactly what the Getty in Los Angeles does – they do have parking structures way down on Sepulveda, but from there you take automated trams to the museum campus. This could be the same, with the bulk of people taking water taxis to the museum. It could be fantastic.

        1. Yes… IF you accept its being built on TI. I prefer it as a part of a redeveloped Piers 30-32/seawall complex.

  13. Mr Lucas has apparently not noticed that a number of people in high places in the Presidio and now Chicago do not want this monument to his genius, or perhaps more broadly “popular culture.”

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