$500 million Obama Center construction commences

obama center rendering

Construction commenced on Aug. 16 on the approximately $500 million Obama Presidential Center in Chicago’s Jackson Park.

The initial work includes roadway improvements and construction, the Obama Foundation said in a statement.

“Cornell Drive will begin to be narrowed from six lanes to four lanes between 59th Street and Hayes Drive. At the same time, the easternmost block of South Midway Plaisance, between Stony Island Avenue and Cornell Drive, will be permanently closed,” the foundation said.

Crews started off by beginning to dismantle the Jackson Park football field near East 61st Street and South Stony Island Avenue.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that the foundation has estimated the overall costs for the new center will be $700 million, of which close to $500 million is for what the foundation calls “hard” construction costs.

City Hall approved a deal on Aug. 13 turning over the 19.3 acres of public park land to the foundation, which put up $1 million for an endowment and $485 million in cash and pledges for construction of the complex of four buildings and a garage, the newspaper reported.

The Sun-Times reports that a construction budget has set the overall price at $482 million for the four buildings on the site.

This includes:

  • $145.2 million is for the 235-foot museum tower;
  • $117.5 million for two buildings, a Chicago Public Library branch and a forum with a restaurant, auditorium, recording studios and other space. The Obama Center will not house Obama’s official presidential library, which is in northwest suburban Hoffman Estates;
  • $58.7 million for landscaping and “site improvements;”
  • $47 million for unspecified general “requirements” and “conditions;”
  • $31.4 million for a garage;
  • $21.3 million for future price escalation;
  • $20.2 million for a combo athletic center/event space;
  • $15.2 million for insurance;
  • $10.5 million for contractor’s construction contingency;
  • $10.1 million for contractor’s fee/profit; and
  • $4.2 million for site security.

All the buildings are connected and will be built at the same time, the newspaper quoted an Obama Foundation spokesperson as saying. The museum tower will take the longest to complete.

Lakeside Alliance is the construction manager. The alliance is a joint venture consisting of Turner Construction Company, and the Presidential Partners consortium of Powers & Sons ConstructionUJAMAA ConstructionBrown & Momen, and Safeway Construction.

Powers & Sons, UJAMAA, Brown & Momen and Safeway represent some of the most established and well-respected African-American owned construction firms in Chicago, the foundation said in an earlier statement.


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