CHICAGO (CBS) — Supporters of the Obama Presidential Center plan to pack City Hall on Thursday, as the Chicago Plan Commission prepares to vote on plans to build the $500 million complex in Jackson Park.

Former President Barack Obama arrived in Chicago on Wednesday to greet the first class of Obama Foundation fellows, ahead of Thursday’s hearing on the foundation’s designs for his presidential library and museum.

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Obama greeted each fellow individually at the Stony Island Arts Bank, a short distance away from Jackson Park, where he wants to build his presidential center.

Before construction can begin, the Plan Commission must approve the foundation’s plan to build on protected lakefront property in Jackson Park, and then the City Council must approve the various zoning changes the project would require.

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Opponents of the plan filed a federal lawsuit this week, seeking to block the project, but the former president brushed aside the opposition, and talked instead about the groundswell of support on the South Side.

“The support that we’ve been able to marshall from the community, and the city generally, to make this a hub for training the next generation of leadership – not just from here in Chicago but, across the country and the world – is extraordinarily exciting,” he said.

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If their plans win city approval, the foundation plans to begin construction on the center before the end of the year.