When the nonprofit Obama Foundation announced in 2016 it had selected Jackson Park on Chicago’s South Side as the location for the Obama Presidential Center, its trustees promised the city’s first presidential library would eventually attract billions in new investment to the predominantly low- to moderate-income Woodlawn community surrounding the site near 60th Street.
Many neighborhood groups cried foul, worried it meant gentrification and displacement. The announcement also kicked off a federal lawsuit filed by preservation groups that said the proposed four-building complex would mar the historic green space, which Frederick Law Olmsted helped design. The lawsuit was later dismissed and a federal appeals court rejected the plaintiffs’ appeal on Aug. 21.
But the resistance from prospective neighbors was stubborn.
"Residents need to buckle down and figure out how to stay here," Woodlawn East Community and Neighbors Executive Director Mattie Butler told the Chicago Tribune in 2016.A 2019 study from the Network of Woodlawn, a community development agency, and engineering firm AECOM,…
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