SEPTEMBER 25, 2021
The Obama Presidential Center is one step closer to coming to fruition, with the former president’s foundation announcing on Friday that it will hold virtual groundbreaking festivities for the estimated $500 million Chicago project next week.
“Our virtual groundbreaking festivities for the Obama Presidential Center will take place on Monday, Sept. 27 and Tuesday, Sept. 28,” the foundation wrote on Twitter.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama also shared the news on Twitter, including a special message from she and former President Barack Obama.
“Barack and I always knew we’d come back here,” Michelle says in the video. “It’s where I grew up, surrounded by a community that made me who I am.”
“It’s where I got my start in public service, knocking on doors and organizing in church basements,” Barack echoes. “And it’s where Michelle and I got married and started our family.”
The South Side of Chicago is where I was born and raised, and it’s where @BarackObama and I started our family. We’re thrilled to head back home next week to celebrate the virtual groundbreaking for the Obama Presidential Center! ❤ https://t.co/e64alXYUDr
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) September 24, 2021
“So when it came time to plan the Obama Presidential Center, we wanted to give something back to the place that gave us so much,” Michelle continued.
Obama said that he and his wife “could not be more excited to break ground” on the project.
Barack also shared the news on his own Twitter account, writing: “Chicago will always be an important place to @MichelleObama and me, which is why we’re excited to celebrate the virtual groundbreaking for the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago next week. It’s been a long time coming, and we can’t wait to see this project come to life.”
The former president and first lady will join Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for a small groundbreaking ceremony for the Obama Presidential Center on Tuesday, Sept. 28.
President Obama will also host a fireside chat via zoom with David Plouffe and Valerie Jarrett for alumni from the Obama presidential campaigns and administration on the Monday evening prior to the groundbreaking ceremony.
The former president and the city of Chicago announced in February that, after four years of federal reviews, construction was expected to begin on the Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s southwest Jackson Park neighborhood in the fall.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported earlier that the years-long review process was required under the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Historic Preservation Act because Obama had chosen to build the presidential center in Jackson Park, which is a site of the 1893 Columbian Exposition.
Located on the city’s South Side, the Jackson Park neighborhood is where Michelle grew up and where Barack began his political career, first being elected as a state senator there in 1996.
The center will include a 235-foot tower with a museum and a branch of the Chicago Public Library. Outside, the Obama Foundation said the center will also include a Nike-backed athletic facility complete with a dual football and soccer field, an auditorium, a restaurant, public meeting spaces, a park, a wetland area, as well as a vegetable garden, children’s play areas and more.
The Obama Foundation estimated the center will generate more than $3 billion for the local economy, while up to 5,000 jobs will be created in the near future to help with construction.