THREATENED: Permits Issued for OPC Construction in Jackson Park


“After landing its first batch of construction permits, Chicago’s upcoming Obama Presidential Center is one step closer to breaking ground in Jackson Park. On Monday, July 26, 2021 the city issued a trio of permits for foundation work at the addresses 6011, 6021, and 6101 S. Stoney Island Avenue. The scope of the work also includes ‘tree removal and site clearing,’ according to the permits.

“The newly issued permits represent a key milestone leading up to the official groundbreaking date, which is scheduled for August 16. In April, the Obama Foundation announced the start of pre-construction work including efforts to relocate utility lines as well as preliminary work to close and widen several adjacent roadways.

Proposed 20 acre site of Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park. Photo Credit: Steven Vance

“Designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, the long-discussed presidential center will be a major addition to the historic Jackson Park landscape conceived in 1871 by Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux. The plan calls for an imposing 235-foot-tall stone museum building, a new Chicago Public Library branch, a public plaza, an athletic facility, an underground parking garage, and a community garden.

“Zoning for the center was approved by the city in 2018 and organizers had hoped to begin construction later that same year. The project faced numerous delays related to a lengthy federal historic review process as well as multiple lawsuits from park advocacy groups.

“The estimated $700 million facility is currently facing fresh legal action from Protect Our Parks, which is aiming to block construction because they say the project would ‘permanently destroy’ the integrity of Jackson Park. Any further delays would add $2.2 million to the center’s price tag each month, according to a court filing from the Obama Foundation reported by Crain’s. The project is expected to take roughly four years to complete.” (Koziarz, Urbanize Chicago, 7/29/21)

Read the full story at Urbanize Chicago

Obama Presidential Center scores construction permits; Official groundbreaking on the $700 million project is less than a month away—that is, if it doesn’t get held up in court, Jay Koziarz, Urbanize Chicago, 7/29/21

No decision at hearing on request to prevent OPC groundbreaking, Aaron Gettinger, Hyde Park Herald, 7/20/21

Groundhog Day in federal court for the Obama Center, Protect Our Parks wants to put the brakes on groundbreaking, Deanna Isaacs, Chicago Reader, 7/21/21

Protect Our Parks asks court to block OPC work after defendants file to dismiss case, Aaron Gettinger, Hyde Park Herald, 6/16/21

OP-ED: Soldier Field revamp hit taxpayers hard. So will the Obama Center, Michael Rachlis and Richard Epstein, Chicago Tribune, 6/28/21

The Obama library is coming to Chicago. Will local residents be displaced? Complex slated for South Side’s Jackson Park prompts fears that low-income Black residents will be displaced, Taylor Moore, The Guardian, 5/24/21

To Make Obama Presidential Center Succeed, Local Business Leaders Must Support It, Former President Says Ahead Of Construction; The former president compared his center’s plans to “great civic projects in Chicago” like Millennium Park in an appearance with economic leaders, Maxwell Evans, Block Club Chicago, 6/7/21

Architect Grahm Balkany on all things Obama Presidential Center, Radio Interview, 2/24/21


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