CHICAGO — Construction for the Obama Center begins Monday in Chicago’s Jackson Park.
The Obama Foundation officially took possession of the land on Friday.
The entire project is expected to take four years to complete.
“It’s going to bring in some much business. It can teach and educate our youth that they can do the same thing and have a library and be the president,” said Chicago resident Jamiel Patton.
The complex will consist of an athletic center, event center, forum with a restaurant, an auditorium, recording studio, and a Chicago Public Library branch.
The center was originally slated to be complete this year, but a series of lawsuits delaying the project.
Among those trying to stop the plan was the “Protect Our Parks” group, who argues that the 19.3-acre site violates the public trust doctrine governing public land. Earlier this month, a federal judge refused the group’s request to block construction.
City resident Darnell Lane told WGN that he is against the idea of the center taking over Jackson Park. He said he feels the center will bring gentrification, along with other changes, to the South Shore community.
“They could have used Washington Park. Washington Park is one big park,” Lane said. “We had the lakefront, everything. And now it’s gone.”
But Erin Adams, founder of Southside Neighbors for Hope, said the presidential center would be a resource for the community.
“I think that our community has worked really hard to try to preserve housing and make it more affordable for families that live here already but I think we have to realize that the status quo is not OK,” Adams said.
Some opposers of the move said they hope something positive comes of the center.
“I hope it brings jobs to the community,” Lane said.
A ceremonial groundbreaking is expected in the fall.