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Planned Lucas Museum in Chicago Relies on $1.2B Debt

Proposal calls for 5 future tax hikes

April 19, 2016

Lakeside Center East Building of McCormick Place

 

 

They're going to need more Force.

The Chicago Tribune reports that the latest proposal to bring the George Lucas museum to Chicago will require galactic-size funding.

The George Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and the City of Chicago have been working on a deal to build a new museum facility in the area around McCormick Place. The museum will feature Lucas' collection of paintings, illustrations and digital art.

However, legal objections from Friends of the Park and other groups have stalled the proposed museum until Chicago Mayor Emanuel offered the old east lakefront section of McCormick Place as an alternative site. The east building is the oldest and least used section of the McCormick Place campus.

About $665 million would be spent to tear down the aboveground portion of the east lakefront convention center building, build the new museum, reconfigure the below-grade space and add open space to the site. Lucas would pay for an upgraded pedestrian bridge over Lake Shore Drive.

An additional $500 million would be spent to construct a "bridge building" over Martin Luther King Drive that would link two other McCormick Place buildings, upgrade space in the other remaining buildings and replace parking spaces that would be given to the Chicago Park District and the Lucas Museum.

Arguments are that the Lucas museum project will form the financial base to renovate the Lakeside Center portion of McCormick Place. Under the new proposal, Lucas would front the city the $743 million. Then, McPier n would borrow about $1.17 billion, using the Lucas money as collateral of sorts. According to Lori Healey, CEO of the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, "We would never be able to do this any other way."

Other proposed funding includes taxes used to fund Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (McPier)  be extended an extra six years, until 2066 instead of 2060. Those taxes — 2.5 percent on hotels, 1 percent on downtown restaurant tabs, a 6 percent tax on car rentals and $4 on taxi rides out of O'Hare and Midway airports — now bring in about $148 million a year. Additionally, Chicago wants the State of Illinois to continue paying up to $15 million a year to subsidize conventions at McCormick Place.

The proposal still has to pass approval from state lawmakers and the governor. Since the Illinois has been without a budget for 10 months due to the legislature and Governor Rauner's refusal to work together, it will be interesting to see how they play this out.

Read more about the Forces at work here:

Source: Chicago Tribune

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