Obama Center lawsuit dismissed but $500 million project still awaits federal historic review

obama center rendering

U.S. District Judge John Robert Blakey has dismissed a lawsuit to block construction of the $300 million Barack Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

The June 17 ruling removes a significant hurdle for the $500 million project on Chicago’s South Side, stalling the lawsuit from the Protect our Parks environmental group.

The group filed the suit in May 2018, asserting that the city could not legally transfer 20 acres of the park to The Obama Foundation or other private organizations.

Protect Our Parks says it plans to appeal the ruling.

The lawsuit and a still-uncompleted federal historic review have delayed the project’s timeline. Originally, the foundation planned to begin construction last year

“Today’s ruling, while disappointing, is by no means the final word,” Charles A. Birnbaum of the Cultural Landscape Foundation said in a published statement.

“Though the carefully orchestrated local approvals process has been enabled by pliant municipal officials, there are still federal-level reviews underway for this nationally significant work of landscape architecture that is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.”

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Mayor Lori Lightfoot supports the project, while pledging to negotiate a community benefits agreement, perhaps with rent assistance or property tax relief for long-time residents of the area.

Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects has designed the structure,

A consortium of five organizations under the name Lakeside Alliance will build the structure. Lakeside is made up of Turner Construction Co., Powers & Sons Construction Co., UJAMAA Construction, Brown & Momen and Safeway Construction Co.


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