Obama Visits Chicago Day Before Presidential Center Goes to Planning Commission - NBC Chicago

Obama Visits Chicago Day Before Presidential Center Goes to Planning Commission

If the plan commission votes for it Thursday, the Obama center will still need more approval.

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    Obama Visits Chicago Day Before Presidential Center Vote

    Former President Barack Obama sounded hopeful in Chicago on Wednesday--but he’s facing some opposition. Patrick Fazio reports. (Published Wednesday, May 16, 2018)

    Former President Barack Obama sounded hopeful in Chicago on Wednesday--but he’s facing some opposition.

    Protests have bubbled up after the nonprofit Protect our Parks filed a lawsuit saying the center shouldn’t be built in Jackson Park because it won’t be a true presidential library.

    Obama was in town for a foundation meeting with 20 Obama fellows.

    "We want to invest in people already making change in communities," he said Wednesday.

    Former President Obama Meets With Foundation Fellows

    [CHI] Former President Obama Meets With Foundation Fellows

    On the eve of a big vote for the Obama Presidential Center, former President Obama and his wife Michelle spent their day greeting the first group of Fellows for their Foundation. NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern has the latest. 

    (Published Wednesday, May 16, 2018)

    He was also in town to gain approval to build the Obama Presidential Center.

    "We’ll be presenting our plans to the plan commission tomorrow," he said. "This is not just about buildings, it’s about people."

    But Obama faces opposition from people on the South Side.

    “He’s not talking to us little people, he’s talking to those that have big interests," said Michelle Williams of the Stop Obama Presidential Center group.

    Neighbors around Jackson Park are protesting the potential impacts of the presidential center.

    They want a city ordinance to guarantee 30 percent of new and rehab housing in the area for low income families and freeze property taxes for long time residents.

    "I love where I live at and I don’t want to be displaced," Williams said. "I don’t want to go to no suburban area."

    Neighbors also want a promise that local workers would be hired for the new presidential center.

    “It is not unreasonable for black people on the south and West Side of Chicago to demand that construction jobs and permanent jobs are guaranteed,” said Peru Brown of the Black Youth Project.

    Obama says he’s loyal to the South Side--which needs development.

    “When I think about what first brought me to Chicago, it was imagining that somehow I could have an impact," Obama said.

    Protesters say they’ll support Obama if they’re guaranteed not to be forced out.

    If the plan commission votes for it Thursday, the Obama center will still need more approval.

    Their goal is to break ground this year and open in 2021.

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