Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama will be in Chicago this week to attend the groundbreaking festivities for the Obama Presidential Center taking place on place on Monday, September 27 and Tuesday, September 28.
The City of Chicago has begun its pre-construction work in the Jackson Park neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side, getting ready for the official groundbreaking. The Obamas will be joined by Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a small groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday.
The Obamas announced the festivities on Twitter today and the event this week will be livestreamed on Obama.org.
“Michelle and I could not be more excited to break ground on the Obama Presidential Center in the community that we love,” Obama said in the video. “We have worked with people who care about this place as much as we do, harnessing the collective talent of the South Side and together we put the voices of this community at the heart of our project. The result is more than a look into the past, it is a vision for the future.”
The former first lady added, “This project has reminded us why the South Side and the people who live here are so special and it has reaffirmed what Barack and I always believed that the future here is as bright as it is anywhere.”
The former president began his career in Chicago as a community organizer. He met Michelle in Chicago, married and raised his family here, launched his political career here, and claimed victory in the 2008 presidential campaign from Chicago.
The Obama Foundation estimates the construction costs of the Center and development of the parkland on-site will be nearly $500M. Pursuant to its agreement with the City, the Obama Foundation will bear 100 percent of the costs to construct and maintain the grounds and structures within the OPC site, turning over ownership to the City upon completion. The Foundation has elected not to pursue capital or operating subsidies from the City and will finance ongoing needs privately. To leverage the private investment in the area, the City will invest in infrastructure improvements throughout the South Side.
An economic impact study concluded the site will have a $3.1 billion economic impact and bring 700,000 visitors from around the world to the South Side each year, creating a catalyst for economic development that will reach across the area.
The completed Obama Presidential Center will serve as a hub for the Obama Foundation’s work to inspire, empower, and connect the next generation of leaders—in Chicago and around the world. Plans for the Center include enriching an 19.3-acre section of the 540-acre Jackson Park — more than 90 percent of which will remain open greenspace that is free and accessible to the public (18.1 of the 19.3 acres).
The campus includes a presidential museum that will celebrate the history of diverse groups of people working toward the common good, highlighting the challenges and accomplishments of the Obama Administration, and underscoring the important role that the South Side of Chicago played in shaping President and Mrs. Obama’s worldviews. It will be a place to honor history while inspiring young people to write chapters of their own.
In addition to the museum, the OPC campus will also include:
- A branch of the Chicago Public Library that will be the first public library branch at a presidential center;
- A contemplative, multi-purpose space at the top of the museum with vistas out to the surrounding neighborhoods;
- A program, activity, and athletic center for recreation, community programming, and events;
- Open green space and Great Lawn that will provide space for community and social gatherings, BBQs, new walking and biking trails, and a winding nature trail near the park’s lagoon;
- A Children’s Play Area featuring an extensive playground with innovative recreation equipment for children of all ages that will offer four seasons of play;
- Paying homage to Mrs. Obama’s garden from the White House, a Fruit and Vegetable Garden and Teaching Kitchen will be a place for young people and community members to learn.
Project estimated to generate $3.1 billion in economic impact for Cook County and bring 700,000 visitors to the area each year to stimulate additional economic growth.