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San Francisco trust rejects plans from George Lucas, others for Presidio

By Laila Kearney

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A group governing a swath of prestigious federal park at the northern edge of San Francisco rejected proposals from the film director George Lucas and two other bidders on Monday to build cultural centers on a prime plot of the parkland, officials said.

The board of directors for the Presidio Trust, a federal agency created to preserve and repurpose a park and former military base known as the Presidio, will hold off granting rights to the eight-acre (3.2-hectare) piece of land, currently occupied by a sporting goods retailer, board Chair Nancy Hellman Bechtle said in a statement.

"All three proposals are excellent expressions of generosity and vision for this iconic location," Bechtle said. "After much deliberation, however, we have determined that none are right for this landmark site at this time."

The board offered the "Star Wars" director an alternative location to house his populist arts museum, which he first proposed four years ago.

In a statement following the board's decision, Lucas said he and his team had begun reviewing several other offers for alternative museum sites.

"I want to thank all the people, especially educators and young people, who have written in to voice their support for the cultural arts museum," Lucas said.

The Lucas Cultural Arts Museum (LCAM) would display a 10,000-piece permanent collection of art ranging from works from fine art to digital animation and would feature rotating works from around the world. The permanent artwork would include pieces by Maxfield Parish and Norman Rockwell as well as props from Lucas's films.

The proposed center would include five expansive galleries, a 200-seat theater, 75-seat lecture hall and 2,000 square feet (185 sq meters) of multi-purpose rooms, according to the project's website.

The board also struck down final proposals from the Bridge/Sustainability Institute that proposed a cultural center focused on environmental and economic issues, and the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy, which planned to build a center "that explores the intersection of people and the environment," according to the board.

The three groups launched lengthy and contentious campaigns to build their institutions on the Sports Basement site, which sits across from a planned roadway, set to open in 2016, that will connect to the famed Golden Gate Bridge.

Eighty percent of the Presidio is governed by the Presidio Trust, while 20 percent is under the jurisdiction of the Golden Gate National Monument.

In 1996, Congress created the Presidio Trust, which in addition to preserving and restoring the park, has been tasked with finding private projects to generate revenue to maintain the grounds.

(Editing by Edith Honan and Ken Wills)

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