South Side say the Obama Presidential Center, as now planned, does not do enough to benefit neighborhoods badly in need of economic revitalization. "Overall, this is a socially regressive plan".
In a newly released video, former President Barack Obama says that he has been actively involved in the planning process to build the center, which aims to open by 2021. The group also complains the center abandoned plans to be a library and instead will have only electronic archives on site.
Another organization, The Cultural Landscape Foundation, is grateful that the center is responding to community feedback, however, still feels strongly that "public parkland should not be confiscated for the Obama Presidential Center", President and CEO Charles A. Birnbaum wrote in an email.
The library will be housed in Chicago and will include a museum building that is 235 feet tall. A two-level athletic center includes basketball courts (for playing the president's favorite sport) alongside workout rooms and multipurpose space.
In a letter signed by scores of faculty members, the professors argue that while they broadly "support the idea of establishing the Obama Center in our neighborhood", they also share many concerns expressed by local community groups about the existing proposal.
"While we don't expect everyone to agree with every element of the plan, we look forward to working with people across the community and the city to make the most of the opportunity to create a global destination that will showcase the South Side to the world", a spokesperson for the Obama Foundation said.