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Mayor Offers Treasure Island to George Lucas Museum

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Previously banished to a city far, far away, Lucas might find a home in San Francisco after all

The saga continues. A few weeks ago, George Lucas’ proposed Museum of Narrative Art (featuring the filmmaker’s private collection of cinema artifacts) seemed like an unwanted orphan, run out of first San Francisco and then Chicago.

But as it turns out, the Lucas Museum is actually the belle of the ball, with no fewer than four cities casting flirtatious glances in its direction. Among them: San Francisco. According to Curbed Chicago and the Chronicle, San Francisco mayor Ed Lee reopened negotiations with Lucas, just two years after the Presidio Trust gave the filmmaker's plans the thumbs down.

"Lee and Lucas have already met to talk about a move to Treasure Island, and now a preferred site has emerged on the west side, facing downtown," reports the Chronicle. "This week, the mayor plans to send a letter to the movie mogul formally inviting him to consider building his museum of narrative arts there."

The museum’s newest new home could well be Treasure Island, a proposal that seems to neatly solve several problems before they start. With fewer than 2,500 residents on the entire island, the NIMBY factor diminishes proportionally to how few backyards there even are. There’s already an overwhelmingly huge development underway, and the island’s genesis as a World’s Fair site seems to resonate with the Lucas project.

Of course, Treasure Island has challenges of its own: As landfill, it’s a tricky seismic zone, and it’s relatively remote, at least until promised ferry service begins in 2022. Still, maybe the museum will be the excuse people need to bother going to the island in the first place.

San Francisco is not alone in courting Lucas. Los Angeles has been making eyes at the project all along and has renewed its interest now that the museum appears to be a free agent. Oakland, too, has repeatedly beckoned. And even though the deal appears to be dead as a frozen tauntaun, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel is still pushing alternative Windy City sites for Lucas to consider.

As always when it comes to big new development, reactions ran the gamut. On Chicago Tribune architecture critic Blair Kamin’s Facebook page, Chicagoans sounded off about almost certainly losing the deal, with opinions ranging from "Expected, and distressing" to "Good, and take Rahm with you."

On SFGate, some locals rejoiced at the opportunity to scoop Chicago after all, while others suggested we "send the oozing, Jabba the Hutt design to LA." Still others suggested that San Francisco simply has bigger fish to fry:

It’s not clear whether the MAD-designed Chicago building, which resembles a giant, floating manta ray, would be coming to Treasure Island. A new design would be the third in the project’s lifetime.