By Alex Dobuzinskis
(Reuters) - San Francisco's mayor is putting his staff to work to find a site for "Star Wars" filmmaker George Lucas' planned art museum, three months after a proposal was rejected to build the center on a prime slice of federal parkland at the city's northern edge.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee faces competition from Chicago, which is also seeking to attract the Lucas Cultural Arts Museum and its 10,000 pieces ranging from animation to fine art, with works by Maxfield Parrish and Norman Rockwell.
In February, the board of the Presidio Trust, a federal agency created to preserve and repurpose a park and former military base known as the Presidio on the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula, rejected a proposal from Lucas to build the museum on a coveted eight-acre (3.2-hectare) piece of land.
Instead, the board offered an alternative site at the Presidio, which Lee said Lucas is evaluating.
"I strongly agree with the many educators, business leaders, parents and families who have expressed their concern to me that we must not squander this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our city and region," Lee said in a statement on Friday.
Lee has directed city staff to develop a shortlist of potential sites, public and private, that San Francisco could present to Lucas before the end of May as possible locations.
Lucas, 69, last year in an interview with CBS, described the museum as a "dedication to cultural fantasy."
The billionaire, who was raised in Modesto, California, and owns a vast property called Skywalker Ranch in the San Francisco Bay area's Marin County, bought his first work of art for $25 when he was a University of Southern California film student. It was a page from one of Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge comic books.
The filmmaker who sold Lucasfilm Ltd in 2012 to the Walt Disney Co for $4.05 billion plans to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the museum.
A representative for Lucas did not return calls seeking comment on Lee's statement.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in April named members of a task force to study potential locations for the museum. Lucas' wife, Mellody Hobson, is from Chicago and the couple live in the city part-time, according to local media.
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles; Editing by Robert Birsel)