Chicago’s City Council has since approved neighborhood protections, and a four-year federal review process that was needed because of its location in Jackson Park — which is on the National Register of Historic Places — was recently completed.
Officials announced in February that construction would begin this year, starting with the relocation of utility lines followed by actual construction.
“This project has reminded us why the South Side and the people who live here are so special,” the former first lady said in the video, adding that the effort has reaffirmed for her and her husband that the future on the South Side of Chicago “is as bright as it is anywhere.”
Barack Obama has described the center as a hub for youth programming and public gatherings that will jumpstart the economy on the city’s South Side, parts of which are impoverished, by bringing attention, jobs and visitors. Foundation officials estimate the center will help create about 5,000 jobs, both during and after construction.
Funding will be raised through private donations.
The complex will sit on 19 acres of the 540-acre Jackson Park and include a museum, public library branch, athletic center, children’s play area and a test kitchen. Obama’s presidential papers will be available in digital form.
The Obama Foundation will also donate up to $3.5 million toward a public track and field facility in the area, city officials have said.
Associated Press writer Sophia Tareen in Chicago contributed to this report.
FILE - In this May 3, 2017, file photo, former President Barack Obama speaks at a community event on the Presidential Center at the South Shore Cultural Center in Chicago. Former President Barack Obama's presidential center will move another step closer to its brick-and-mortar future when ground is broken next week after years of reviews, other delays and local opposition. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
Credit: Nam Y. Huh
Credit: Nam Y. Huh