The center will serve as an “economic and cultural nucleus” for the South Side and bring up to 5,000 jobs during and after construction.
Back in February, Former President Barack Obama tweeted announcing that his Presidential Center was to officially break ground this year. “Our hope is that the center will breathe new life into historic Jackson Park while delivering jobs, growth, and much more to the South Side. Let’s get to work.” he wrote.
A series of tweets from Mayor Lori Lightfoot followed up the announcement, sharing the 44th President’s video and proudly stating “We’re now officially the home of the Obama Presidential Center.”
That day has now come folks and construction began on the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s Jackson Park yesterday on Monday, August 16.
We're now officially the home of the Obama Presidential Center. The Obama Presidential Center is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to support economic development on our South Side. https://t.co/DLBPzBchuQ
— Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot (@chicagosmayor) February 4, 2021
Lightfoot earlier in the year confirmed that a number of Chicago departments as well as Chicago Park District and Chicago Public Library will all be making “substantial investments to support this project and our South Side communities.”
Construction for the state-of-the-art presidential center near the University of Chicago campus plans to create more than five acres of new green space for the neighborhood, improve roads expanding on bike and pedestrian traffic, and create a new community track and field facility with multi-use artificial turf.
Importantly, however, it will also help protect existing residents from displacement, create new affordable housing opportunities, and rehabilitate existing affordable housing nearby.
According to The Obama Foundation, after “a robust four-year-long federal review process” pre-construction work was scheduled for April 2021, and construction was then planned to commence in August. The federal review was a necessary measure because Jackson Park, where the center has broken ground, is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Upon announcing the news earlier this year Obama said “from the beginning, Michelle and I knew there was only one place for the Obama Presidential Center: the South Side of Chicago. It’s where I met Michelle. Just a couple of miles from where she grew up. Where Sasha and Malia were born. Where I became a community organizer and won my first election.”
The Obama Foundation also quashed fears of gentrification by revealing that the project was estimated to generate over $3 billion in economic impact that would in turn “create new economic opportunities, especially for South Side residents.”
50 percent of the subcontracting packages will be given to diverse vendors and the Obama Foundation ensured that the teams responsible for building the center “will look like the community it calls home.”
The Obama Foundation also revealed that a ceremonial groundbreaking is currently being planned for later this fall.
[Featured image from Obama.org]