"We remain steadfast in our opposition to the confiscation of public parkland for the Obama Presidential Center, which is a private facility", Charles A. Birnbaum, President & CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, told Breitbart News Wednesday. And while community members have anxious that the Obama Presidential Center will take up space in a way that inexorably alters the historic place's character, the new plans assert that the closure of nearby Cornell Drive will create a net gain in total park acreage. In a recent letter, over 100 members of the University of Chicago faculty and dozens of community groups strongly condemn Obama's plan. Why?
The foundation announced Monday a planned above-ground garage has been dropped in favor of an underground one.
In an email Wednesday morning from the Obama Foundation and signed by "Barack", the former president continued to make his case for the campus, despite continued criticism by locals, including almost 200 faculty at the University of Chicago- which is adjacent to the anticipated site of the Center-who panned the plans as "socially regressive" in an open letter.
"We would be pleased to support the Obama Center if the plan genuinely promoted economic development in our neighborhoods and respected our precious public urban parks".
A new rendering of the Obama Presidential Center.
Despite such claims, a coalition of eight community groups on the South Side is demanding the Obama Foundation sign an agreement guaranteeing neighborhood involvement in the development and maintenance of the Obama Center. This Center is for young people on the South Side and for young people all around the world - the leaders of tomorrow who are ready to step up and build the world as it should be.
Crews are expected to break ground later this year and open doors in 2021.
The complex consists mainly of four buildings- the museum tower, a forum, a library and an athletic center, plus a plaza. "It's our way of showing, it takes many hands to shape a place", Obama said. "Michelle and I are absolutely grateful to all of you for being a part of all this remarkable process", said former President Barack Obama in a video. "People are anxious to have this come to life", said Michael Strautmanis, the foundation's vice president of civic engagement.
"From community meetings, to online surveys, we've heard from literally thousands of people about their hopes for the center", he said.