CHICAGO — On Monday, former President Barack Obama celebrated the eve on his presidential center’s groundbreaking by chatting with students.
Obama hopes his center, which will be located in Jackson Park, will connect with the next generation of leaders.
“One of the most lasting legacies of our campaign and the presidency is to unleash a whole bunch of really effective do-gooders on the world,” Obama said.
In the summer of 2016 while still in the White House, Obama and Mrs. Obama chose historic Jackson Park as the place to tell their story. Top advisor Valerie Jarrett described the $830 million project as “not your parents’” presidential library.
The center’s campus will include a museum, public library branch and outdoor space. The library will include a garden on the roof. Visitors will see official documents, artwork, even some of Mrs. Obama’s famous dresses.
“We’re going to have an auditorium, classrooms, recording studios, a branch of Chicago Public libraries because we want to a constant swirl of activity,” Obama said.
With 700,000 tourists per year, the Obama Foundation estimates 3.1 billion dollars in economic impact. But local residents are skeptical and some pushed for guaranteed benefits in writing.
There was also a lengthy legal battle. A yearslong federal review was prompted due to the park being listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Then, a preservationist group, Protect Our Parks, sued to block construction. The lawsuit was rejected by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gov. Pritzker and Mayor Lightfoot will join the Obamas at Tuesday’s ceremony.