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Chicago mayor: George Lucas facility will give city museum campus as impressive as Smithsonian

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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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