Delays continue for Obama library


Pete Souza

Development of the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park has faced numerous delays. (Image licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Delays continue for the Obama Presidential Center.

The Barack Obama Foundation announced on July 29, 2016 that Jackson Park would be the home for the Obama Presidential Center, which at that point was expected to open in 2020.  

However, while progress has been made, things haven’t gone as envisioned.  MC journalist Miles Hoey ’19, wrote an article published on on October 2, 2018, that the “Obama Center brings new opportunity for Woodlawn and MC.”  Hoey went on to report that the OPC was “expected to break ground sometime next year.” Clearly, that hasn’t been the case. 

The major reason for the delays has been a series of lawsuits which challenged the right of the Obama Foundation to use public land for private purposes.  The “public land” being contested is Jackson Park, located just east of Mount Carmel.  One of the largest and best-known parks in Chicago, it was the site of the Columbian Exposition in 1893

Recently, however, there are indications that the long-awaited project may soon get underway.

According to an article by Jay Kozlarz published on the website Curbed Chicago on Tuesday, June 11, 2019, “U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey dismissed a lawsuit to block the construction of the Barack Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park . . . The nonprofit environmental group Protects Our Parks filed the suit on May 2018, arguing that the city could not legally transfer 20 acres of the historic Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park to a private entity such as the Obama Foundation.”

The Mount Carmel community has widely anticipated the OPC, recognizing the many benefits it will bring to the Woodlawn neighborhood. In addition to educational opportunities for future MC students, the project is expected to accelerate economic development along 63rd Street, and contribute to a general revitalization of the area.

With the original target date of 2020 no longer realistic, only time will tell when it actually will be open.