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Why Cities Should Be More Skeptical of New Cultural Centers and Expansions

On the other side of a major U.S. arts building boom, some civic leaders still think that luring cultural centers—no matter the cost—means instant success.
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City of Los Angeles

Back in February, the Presidio Trust canceled a competition for developers vying to build a cultural center on an 8-acre site across from Crissy Field, a former military airfield in San Francisco. One of the three finalists in the mix was Star Wars auteur George Lucas, who is shopping around for space to build a $700 million museum for popular art and Americana. After careful consideration, the board of the Presidio Trust voted unanimously to politely decline his offer (and two other proposals).

The news couldn't be better for Los Angeles, which is anxious to land the Lucas center. According to the Los Angeles Times, Mayor Eric Garcetti aims to tear down the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (located near the University of Southern California) and host the Lucas museum in its place. "We'd like you to consider opening your museum in a place where its impact can be amplified like no other, Los Angeles," reads an open letter on the mayor's website.