*Barach and Michele Obama are expected to return to Chicago this week to attend the ceremonial groundbreaking of the $700 million presidential center.
Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker are also slated to attend the event on the city’s South Side, where Barack was first elected to public office and Michelle grew up.
“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. “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.”
Obama Foundation President Valerie Jarrett agreed, per the Chicago Tribune.
“I spent my entire childhood and adulthood seeing the South Side overlooked,” Jarrett told the Tribune this past Monday. “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.”
I’m proud to announce that the Obama Presidential Center will officially break ground in 2021. Our hope is that the center will breathe new life into historic Jackson Park while delivering jobs, growth, and much more to the South Side.
Let’s get to work. pic.twitter.com/cOqoPmaLkf
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) February 3, 2021
The multi-building project will include a museum, public library, athletic center, children’s playground and test kitchen, the AP reported. It is being financed through private donations, including $3.5 million from the Obama Foundation for a public facility for track and field competitions. The center will not include a formal “presidential library,” the Sun-Times reported.
Obama has described the center as a hub for youth programming and public gatherings. The center will help create about 5,000 jobs during and after construction.
The groundbreaking event will be livestreamed at 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at obama.org.
“This is not your parents’ or your grandparents’ presidential library,” Jarrett said. “This is a library of pointing really towards the future, that stands on the shoulders of our past.”
Earlier this year, Obama posted a video message to Twitter, noting that the center will break ground in Jackson Park, and it comes after a four-year delay.
“Getting to this point wouldn’t have been possible without the folks in the community who have been a part of this process along the way,” Obama said. “Michelle and I want to thank you for making this project even better — a space for the community, built in partnership with the community.”
Here’s more from The Chicago Tribune:
The four floors of the museum will start with the first level portraying Obama’s childhood in Hawaii and Indonesia as well as his seminal years in Chicago with Michelle Obama and his first presidential campaign. The second floor will frame his administration’s tenure. On the third floor will be a homage to the diversity of the different groups of people who worked at the Obama White House, and a full-scale replica of the Oval Office will be open for visitors to walk through. And finally, the last floor will symbolize Obama’s “passing of the baton” to the next generation of leaders.
“It’s a story that’s connected, obviously, to Chicago,” said Obama Presidential Center Museum Director Louise Bernard. “It’s really rooted in the South Side of Chicago broadly. … As much as the kind of central narrative arc is about the Obama presidency, it is also about all of the people who made his journey possible.”