CHICAGO (CBS) — For the third time, Chicago aldermen will vote on plans to build the Obama Presidential Center in historic Jackson Park, but the project still faces bigger hurdles before construction can begin.
The City Council will vote Wednesday on a revised master plan for the site, including a 99-year lease for the 19.3-acre site to the Obama Foundation for $10.
The deal would require the foundation to prove it can raise enough money for the $500 million project, and establish an endowment to pay for maintenance and operations once its open.
Aldermen also will vote on the traffic plan for the center, which would require closing Cornell Drive and the southern portion of Midway Plaisance at its eastern end; widening Stony Island Avenue and the northern portion of Midway Plaisance, and removing street parking on one side of Hayes Drive.
Southbound traffic past Jackson Park would be moved to Stony Island. Crews would install barrier walls and stop lights on Hayes Drive.
City officials also plan to use $172 million in state funding to widen Lake Shore Drive between 57th Street and Hayes Drive to help with traffic.
The master plan does not include a community benefits agreement sought by many community groups to protect homeowners who live in the area. The Obama Foundation has offered several promises when it comes to jobs, affordable housing, and economic development in the area, but has refused to put those promises into a formal community benefits agreement.
Members of the Obama CBS Coalition gathered at City Hall before the council meeting, demanding aldermen do more to protect the community from issues like higher housing costs as a result of the Obama Center project.
The coalition formed more than two years ago, and includes several community organizations, including Friends of the Parks.
Patricia Hightower said she has lived in the Woodlawn neighborhood for 30 years, and she’s not sure what will happen to her and her neighbors when the Obama Center moves in. She lives in a senior building, and doesn’t know if they will be able to afford rent if housing costs go up once the Obama Center is built.
“I don’t have a problem living next to anyone. Just don’t move in and move me out like Rawhide, ‘Move ‘em in, move ‘em out,’” she said. “We just want to make sure that we’re included in decision-making and that we are not pushed out.”
The Obama Foundation still faces a federal lawsuit seeking to block construction of the center in Jackson Park. The federal government also is reviewing the project, because Jackson Park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The City Council also is expected to vote on a $1 billion redevelopment plan for Union Station. That project includes adding a new 50-story office tower, and a public park on the land where the Amtrak-owned parking garage now sits.
If approved, the overhaul of the 93-year-old train station would begin next year, and take three years to finish.