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In The News

Lucas Arts Center is the Clear Favorite for the Presidio Trust

The powers at the Presidio Trust are trying to swing a deal that would allow "Star Wars" creator George Lucas to build his museum at Crissy Field while making room elsewhere in the park for a pair of competing proposals, sources tell us.

As part of any deal, however, the trustees want Lucas to scale back his building at the Sports Basement site so it won't block views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

They also are pushing for a redesign of the $250 million Beaux Arts museum to something more in sync with the park's Mission Revival architecture.

Lucas indicated at a private sit-down with the Presidio Trust board and staff last week that he was ready to be flexible on his proposed museum, sources say. The museum would house his $1 billion collection of works by artists such as Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell, and his props from the "Star Wars" movies.

But in follow-up conversations with the trust's staff, Lucas' real estate advisers have resisted suggested design changes, according to our sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the talks are continuing.

"There is always room to negotiate," said Lucas project spokesman David Perry.

One change Lucas won't make, Perry said, is switching to "a modern, glass building," as some have urged.

Craig Middleton, executive director of the Presidio Trust, said Tuesday that trustees "haven't made a decision" among Lucas and the other two bidders for the Crissy Field site, "and we aren't going to make a decision until we get more information" from the finalists.

Still, our sources say even some of the biggest skeptics of the Lucas project on the trust's board appear to have been won over by his promise that a digital arts education program at the museum will bring busloads of kids from all over the Bay Area to learn about moviemaking and special effects.

If Lucas does win the Sports Basement site, we're told, the trust brass is still hoping to find a place elsewhere in the park for both the popular Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, which wants to build "a park-based program hub that amplifies the Presidio's nature and history," and for a "hybrid museum, science and nature center" envisioned by the local architecture firm WRNS Studio.

According to our sources, the Presidio might ask the two groups either to team up or submit separate plans to go forward - turning what otherwise could be a divisive competition into a "win-win-win" for everyone involved.


We're told the trust hopes to make a final call by month's end.

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