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Sketches show revised plans for Obama Presidential Centre

12 January 2018

"The Obama Presidential Center will be a global community center, a place of life and vibrancy that showcases the South Side to the world", said Martin Nesbitt, board chair of the Obama Foundation, in a statement.

The letter hammered the Obama Foundation's plans to build a 450-space parking lot, saying that it is "socially regressive" because it privileges people who can afford to have a vehicle.

The centre will split into three main buildings: a library and a forum - both partially buried - and a stone-clad "landmark" tower that will host a museum.

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The planned presidential center of Barack Obama has undertaken some major revisions to better harmonize with surroundings in southern Chicago, local media reported on Wednesday.

Grass-roots activists, conservationists and academics on Chicago's South Side say the Obama Presidential Center, as now planned, does not do enough to benefit neighborhoods badly in need of economic revitalization.

The Obama Center as now planned will not provide the promised development or economic benefits to the neighborhoods. The Obama Center destroys a historic park:Second, the current plan calls for taking a large section of an historic public park and giving it to a private entity for development. It looks to many neighbors that the only new jobs created will be as staff to the Obama Center, hence the widespread support for a Community Benefits Agreement. What happens to Olmsted's vision for Jackson Park will now be determined by a federal review, the city of Chicago and the Obamas.

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A new rendering of the Obama Presidential Center.

A parking lot, of course, privileges cars and those who can afford them.

Another organization, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, is grateful that the center is responding to community feedback, however, still feels strongly that "public parkland should not be confiscated for the Obama Presidential Center", President and CEO Charles A. Birnbaum wrote in an email. None of the funds will go back to the City to improve train lines and public transportation infrastructure. "Overall, this is a socially regressive plan".

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What that means - according to the letter - is that while IL taxpayers will be responsible for financing at least a portion of the construction of the Obama Center, if and when money comes in from tourists visiting the center and paying for parking, the state will not see a return on that investment.

Sketches show revised plans for Obama Presidential Centre