On Wednesday, the US federal review process concluded and effectively paving the way for Obama Presidential Center that had stalled for four years.
“Today, after a comprehensive federal regulatory review process, I’m proud to announce the Obama Presidential Center will break ground in 2021,” Former US President Barak Obama said on Wednesday.
“Michelle and I couldn’t be more excited to bring this new center of energy, connection, and growth to the South Side of Chicago. Along with the thousands of jobs it will create, our hope is that the Obama Presidential Center can serve as a catalyst for long-overdue investment in and around historic Jackson Park. That’s why we’re working with local partners to create a new destination to help inspire visitors from hope to action, breathe new life into the park, and deliver real benefits to the community we love,” Obama added.
He explained that getting to this point would not have been possible without the many Chicagoans who have been a part of this process. “So I want to thank each and every person out there who helped us reach this milestone—and for their continued partnership in the years to come.”
Federal agencies closed the final review into the project after determining the Obama center’s construction and nearby roadway fixes would not pose a “significant impact” on the environment, according to city and Obama Foundation officials.
With other federal reviews looking into factors such as the project’s effects on historic properties also recently ending, that means preliminary work can start in April and groundbreaking can likely begin as early as August. The Obama Foundation estimates construction will take about four years.
In 2016, Obama announced that Jackson Park, sandwiched between Lake Michigan and Woodlawn, would be the destination of his future presidential center, at the time scheduled to open in 2021.
His choice was heralded by supporters who hoped the project would help revitalize neighboring communities and become a source of pride for South Side locals and visitors alike.
The groundbreaking of the $500 million campus will include a museum, Obama Foundation offices, a public library branch, an athletic center and an outdoor recreation space.
Its opening initially had been set for this year, but four years of obstacles have stood in the project’s way, at times leaving supporters with dashed hopes as groundbreaking repeatedly was delayed.