Obama Center scraps above-ground parking garage after neighborhood opposition

Obama Center scraps above-ground parking garage after neighborhood opposition

"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.

The Obama Presidential Center, near Lake Michigan on the south side of Chicago, will get a taller, slimmer and more transparent museum tower than the previous version revealed a year ago.

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 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 auto.

More than 100 professors and faculty members from the University of Chicago, where former President Barack Obama once taught, shared an open letter Monday stating that they, like many neighborhood residents and activists, think the Obama Center will not deliver "economic benefits" to Chicago's South Side. "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", the letter read.

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.

A new rendering of the Obama Presidential Center.

The foundation hopes to break ground on the center in late-2018, with plans to open its doors in 2021.

The campus will feature a museum building, which is planned to be 235-feet-high. Museum and library buildings will be joined by a space called the "Forum", where, according to the former USA president, "anybody can come together for some local programming, or to gather for larger-scale events in an auditorium, maybe record something in a broadcast studio, or just have a bite to eat". "It's our way of showing, it takes many hands to shape a place", Obama said.

Plans for the development were submitted Wednesday. Obama once wanted to be an architect, in 2011 he said, "When I was younger, there was a time I dreamed of being an architect".

Obama stressed that public input has and will continue to be central to the design process.