The city of Gary, Indiana has planned an ambitious $300 million complex honoring the legacy of native son and superstar Michael Jackson.
His father, Joe Jackson, stood alongside Gary mayor Rudy Clay today as Clay announced the project. The city is collaborating with the Jackson Family Foundation to create a museum, a performing arts center, restaurants, hotels and more.
The Board of Public Works transferred a parcel of land south of downtown to the Foundation this morning, for the purposes of developing the complex. According to the Chicago Tribune, investors, not taxpayers, will fund the project, which is projected to add $150 million a year to the local economy.
But the plan faces one rather sizable obstacle: the Michael Jackson estate.
Howard Weitzman, the estate's attorney, said the estate "was never consulted about, nor is it involved in, the Jackson Family museum being proposed in Gary, Indiana."
"Michael Jackson's music, name, likeness, memorabilia and other intellectual property are assets exclusively owned by the Estate for the benefit of his children," Howard Weitzman said in a written statement. "These properties cannot be exploited legally without written authorization from the Estate."
The same statement said that the Estate itself was planning "a world-class museum that would include memorabilia, music and other intellectual properties at a site yet to be determined" -- that is to say, not the one in Gary.
Mayor Clay griped that such ambitious projects in his city always seem to face some opposition. "It never fails," he said.