Decades ago, George Lucas chose the Bay Area as the base for his film empire -- but today, he chose Exposition Park in Los Angeles as the new home for his Museum of Narrative Art.
“We have been humbled by the overwhelmingly positive support we received from both San Francisco and Los Angeles,” said the Lucas Museum Board of Directors in a statement issued this afternoon. “Settling on a location proved to be an extremely difficult decision precisely because of the desirability of both sites and cities.”
"I am disappointed,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement. But he added, “I am pleased that the museum will be built in California for our state’s residents to some day enjoy.”
The museum board extended a special thanks to Lee and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors “for their tremendous efforts and engagement.”
Lucas first offered his museum to San Francisco, on the condition that he be allowed to build it at a site overlooking Crissy Field. But the museum design was rejected by the Presidio Trust. Then Lucas set his sights on Chicago, his wife’s hometown, and ran into legal challenges there.
San Francisco then offered Lucas another prime piece of real estate, on Treasure Island. Lucas would have paid $23 million for the site, accessible only by bridge or ferry. Instead he chose a site in South Los Angeles in Exposition Park for which he’ll pay just $20 a year.
John Stewart’s company manages market-rate apartments on Treasure Island. “No, he didn’t,” Stewart said when informed about Lucas’ decision. “Oh God. No.”
Stewart said he's disappointed at Lucas' choice, since the museum would have enhanced ferry ridership to and from the island, and boosted the island’s potential for retail and restaurant business.
Lucas and his board say they hope to open the museum by 2020.