Paperwork has been filed that moves the Barack Obama Presidential Center a little closer to reality. The Chicago department of Planning and Development introduced an ordinance that includes master, use, and environmental agreements between the city of the Obama Foundation.
Federal reviews of the project are underway, and the Foundation hopes to break ground on the 20-acre project in Jackson Park next year. You may remember the footprint was previously 19.3 acres.
It has been the subject of opposition and lawsuits from several organizations, in part because it is being located in a public park and not on private land.
The details of the ordinance are numerous, but here are some highlights:
- The Obama Foundation effectively gets to rent the Jackson Park land for 10¢ a year. (99 years for a one-time payment of $10.)
- Once construction is done, the buildings become property of the City of Chicago.
- The Obama Foundation must see if there is any environmental remediation needed at the site.
- If remediation is needed, the city “is required to reimburse the Foundation for any incremental remediation costs.”
- Cornell Drive from North Midway Plaisance to 62nd Street will be permanently closed and become part of the Obama Center.
- South Midway Plaisance from Stony Island Avenue to Cornell Drive will be permanently closed and become part of the Obama Center.
- The Obama Center does not get any “tax-based operating or capital support.”
- The Obama Foundation must maintain the Center without any city money.
- The green space around the Center must be open to the public on the same schedule as if this was still Chicago park land.
- The Obama Center has to go along with the free admission rules that other big Chicago museums do.
- Parking must be “consistent” with the rates at the Museum of Science and Industry or the Field Museum.
- Political fundraisers are prohibited.