Construction is finally set to commence at the site of former President Barack Obama’s Presidential Center in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune reports both Barack and Michelle Obama will join Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and others at the ceremonial groundbreaking event Tuesday (Sept. 29).
Obama specifically selected the South Side’s Jackson Park as the site of his presidential center to reinvigorate the neighborhood and as a nod to where his rise in politics began. It’s been five years, however, since he chose the area for the ambitious venue. Setbacks and a federal regulatory review process pushed back its opening.
“Michelle and I could not be more excited to break ground on the Obama Presidential Center in the community that we love,” Barack Obama said in a video posted Friday (Sept. 24). “With your help, we can make the center a catalyst for economic opportunity, a new world-class destination on the South Side and a platform for young people to drive change. So let’s celebrate Chicago.”
In an interview with The Tribune, Obama Foundation President Valerie Jarrett said next week’s ceremony also represents a milestone for Chicago’s South Side. “I spent my entire childhood and adulthood seeing the South Side overlooked,” Jarrett said. “For generations now, the South Side of Chicago hasn’t seen the kind of investment and attention that I think it deserves. So, long overdue, and I couldn’t be more proud that it is President and Mrs. Obama who decided to make this major investment in the South Side of Chicago.”
The Obama Foundation estimates the presidential center will generate $3.1 billion in economic impact for Cook County and bring nearly 700,000 visitors to the South Side each year to stimulate economic growth. There will be a museum, a library, a lawn for social gatherings and a children’s play area within the space.
The groundbreaking event will be livestreamed at 1:30 p.m. ET Tuesday (Sept. 29) via obama.org. Watch Barack and Michelle talk about the Obama Presidential Center below: