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Obama Unveils Designs For 'Transformational,' South Side Presidential Library Campus

By aaroncynic in News on May 3, 2017 7:22PM

In what may have been the most fun urban planning project meeting in recent memory, former-president Barack Obama unveiled the plans for the Obama Presidential Library and Center at the South Shore Cultural Center.

Obama was joined by former First Lady Michelle, as well as Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton, Ald. Leslie Hairston (5th), Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx, and a host of other local dignitaries, who shared their enthusiasm for the coming project and its future role in a South Side museum campus.

"We want this to be a living center which the community itself feels on an ongoing basis—they can bring their children, participate in activities, see a concert, learn how to make a movie, record music...learn how to organize," Obama said.

In the informal roundtable discussion, which lasted a little more than an hour, a jovial and seemingly stress-free Obama said that he hoped that the Center and its 200,000 square foot campus would be a transformational project for the community, and that it would transform the area into a "people's park." He also said that the center would be more than just a park, but a place where the next generation of leaders could be trained.

"This can be a laboratory where people learn what works and what doesn't when it comes to social development," Obama said.

And, as if it didn't sound awesome enough, he listed off a number of features he hoped the Center and park would have, including food trucks, basketball, places for families to grill, and more.

While the construction won't be complete for at least four years, the former president said that programming would begin within a year. He also said that the number of permanent jobs the center would create would be around 200 to 300. In addition, according to his estimates the center would generate in the neighborhood of 1,500 jobs during construction, and an additional 2,000 in the area surrounding it on completion.

Obama also announced that he and Michelle would donate $2 million to Chicago's summer jobs program, "so that right away young people can get to work and we can start providing opportunities to all of them."