CHICAGO (CBS) — The Obama Foundation has changed some of the plans for its library center in Jackson Park, in response to complaints from its future neighbors.
In a newly released video, former President Barack Obama said he had an active role in the design of his presidential center.
“Over the course of the past year, Michelle and I have been working with an extraordinary team to dream up a campus for active citizenship on Chicago’s South Side,” he said.
Under changes submitted to the city, the iconic tower would now stand 235 feet tall, 57 feet higher than the original design. The new concept also is more slender.
“Form representing ascension, hope, and what ordinary people have the power to do together,” Obama said.
The revised design also would include more landscaped paths and protective green space, including a promenade along the Jackson Park lagoon, which would connect the center to the Museum of Science and Industry campus.
The community also had complained about the original plan for an above-ground parking garage on the Midway Plaisance, so the foundation agreed to move the garage underground and to relocate it on Stony Island near 61st Street.
The revised design also would call for 400 new trees in Jackson Park, and would eliminate plans for a pedestrian bridge connecting the center to nearby Metra stations, in favor of more play areas on the site.
“The majority of the campus will be free and open to the public. It will be a place for all seasons, with winding landscapes, a sledding hill, and quiet spaces to read or reflect,” Obama said.
The new plans have been submitted to the Chicago Plan Commission for approval. The City Council also would have to sign off before the Obama Foundation could break ground.
“We want to create an economic engine for the South Side of Chicago,” Obama said.
According to Crain’s Chicago Business, the estimated cost of the project is $350 million. Private donations would cover the cost of development and construction. The Obamas hope to open the center in 2021.
The new designs have not satisfied all critics. Friends of the Parks executive director Juanita Irizarry said the group continues to oppose allowing the center to be built in Jackson Park.
“Friends of the Parks will never stop saying that the Obama Presidential Center should not be sited in a park. That said, we appreciate the opportunity to be in conversation with the Obama Foundation and to see progress being made in the preservation and replacement of greenspace and recreational amenities related to the location of the center in Jackson Park,” she said.