San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee has offered "Star Wars" creator George Lucas a prime lot near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge for the film director's planned cultural arts museum, according to a letter from the mayor obtained by The Tribune.
The 2.3 acre site, known as Seawall Lot 330, will now compete against Chicago's offering: a 17-acre parcel, composed of a parking garage and parking lot, located between Soldier Field and McCormick Place, the city's convention center.
Lee's letter describes the San Francisco site as "easily accessed by public transit and framed by views of the Bay Bridge and the City skyline. ... It is within walking distance of local and regional transit hubs, wind-protected, and enjoys sunshine an average of 300 days per year."
That last attribute would seem to be a subtle dig at Chicago's unpredictable weather.
Lee's letter also offers up the option of combining Seawall Lot 330 with Piers 30-32, located across a street known as the Embarcadero. The NBA's Golden State Warriors had planned to build a new arena on the piers and a hotel and condos on the seawall lot, but abandoned the idea in the face of community opposition and regulatory hurdles, including a federal environmental review that could have taken years.
"Piers 30-32, which, should you be interested, offer a unique opportunity to partner with the City and the Port (of San Francisco, which owns the seawall lot) to transform crumbling piers and parking lots into complementary new waterfront educational and public open space," Lee's letter states.
The Golden State Warriors had anticipated repairs to the piers would cost $180 million, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
"Should you choose San Francisco, we are committed to being your partner through every step of the process, from environmental review to construction to opening day," Lee's letter states.
The typed letter also included some hand-written comments from Lee at the bottom: "George - Thank you for your utmost consideration. You know we enthusiastically support your project and our history! Ed"
Both the Chicago and San Francisco offerings would seem to supply the blank canvas with jaw-dropping views Lucas is seeking. But both sites have drawbacks.
San Francisco's site, at 2.3 acres, is a fraction of the size of Chicago's, yet it isn't boxed in by hulking neighbors, such as Soldier Field and McCormick Place. In order to offer a panoramic vista, whatever building Lucas would construct on the Chicago site would have to be raised and sited closer to McCormick Place than Soldier Field.
Chicago is Lucas' part-time home, having recently married Ariel Investments President Mellody Hobson, a Chicago native and resident. But Lucas built his career and made his films in San Francisco. He owns a massive ranch, Skywalker Ranch, in Marin County, Calif.
"We want to reiterate our deep appreciation to the Mayors of both San Francisco and Chicago and everyone from both those cities, and elsewhere, who have expressed their support and enthusiasm for the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum and the unique and unprecedented educational opportunities it will afford, especially for young people," said David Perry, a spokesman for the Lucas Cultural Arts Musuem, in a statement. "We won't speculate on potential sites or their specifics. The Museum team is analyzing all the options now presented."
Two Chicagoans, Hobson and former Field Museum chief executive John McCarter, sit on the Lucas museum board. Another board member, Pixar's John Lasseter, signed a full-page ad published in The Chronicle, calling on Lucas to plant the museum in San Francisco.
A decision is expected this summer.
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