Obama at odds with community organizers over plans for presidential library

Former President Barack Obama and wife Michelle

"When I was younger, there was a time I dreamed of being an architect", said Obama.

"We are concerned that rather than becoming a bold vision for urban living in the future it will soon become an object-lesson in the mistakes of the past", the letter concludes.

Located in Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago, the Obama Presidential Center will now comprise of a 235-foot-high tower (160-180-feet in previous plans) as the main building, housing a museum telling the story of Obama as well as that of civil rights and African American history. "Overall, this is a socially regressive plan".

The faculty letter also raises other concerns, including a lack of opportunity for neighborhood economic development, and giving a portion of the historic Jackson Park to the foundation.

"We urge the Obama Foundation to explore alternative sites on the South Side that could be developed with more economic benefits, better public transportation, and less cost to taxpayers", the professors wrote.

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According to Crain's, shortly after the statement was sent, the foundation announced it would eliminate the above-ground parking garage on the east end of the Midway Plaisance, and instead create a parking garage underneath the center in Jackson Park.

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 design includes three buildings: a museum, library and forum. New plans call for an underground parking garage at the Obama Center site.

The Obama Foundation has given in to criticism, making a change to its plans. Another two-story building will house a library and both buildings will be covered with accessible parkland on the rooftops.

"Michelle and I want this center to be more than just a building".

The Obama Library South Side Community Benefits Agreement Coalition says "low-income, working-, and middle-class communities" will be "directly impacted by the development of the Obama Presidential Center".

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