A federal judge decided Thursday to let a lawsuit filed by the Friends of The Parks proceed further in the court process.
The lawsuit, filed against the city of Chicago and Chicago Park District, argues that the allocation of lakefront land to the Lucas museum is a violation of public trust. The suit also claims that the city and park district do not have the authority to green light building on the land without approval from the state legislature because the space is still technically a protected waterway. The land between Soldier Field and McCormick Place was originally part of Lake Michigan, but was turned into land space in the 1920s.
In the 19-page decision, U.S. District Judge John W. Darrah writes that the city and park district clearly plan to give a private entity stewardship over 17 acres of public land, as opposed to leasing it.
"The complaint alleges enough facts to state that defendants intend to transfer the exclusive right to use and control the museum site to a private entity," Darrah's ruling reads. "The complaint plausibly states a claim that the agreement violates the public trust doctrine."
The plaintiffs in the case say they are pleased with the ability to continue their legal fight to preserve the lakefront property.
"We're pleased with the decision," Tom Geoghegan, an attorney representing Friends of the Parks and two individuals who filed the lawsuit, said in response to the ruling, according to the Chicago Tribune. "We continue to believe that the siting of the Lucas museum is in violation of the public trust."
Meanwhile, the city appears poised to continue pushing its plan to build the Lucas museum in that area.
"While we are disappointed that the court did not resolve the case today, we look forward to the next phase of the public process to determine the best way to make the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art a great new addition to Chicago's museum campus," reads a statement by the city's law department. "This incredible investment will create a world-class educational institute for Chicago's children, thousands of jobs, and new green space so that more Chicagoans can access and enjoy the lakefront."
A status hearing on the case is scheduled for next month.