Obama’s Presidential Center is set to open on Chicago's South Side in 2025 despite a lawsuit attempting to block its construction.
On Tuesday (March 29), Federal Judge Robert Blakey dismissed a second lawsuit filed by Protect Our Parks against the city of Chicago, Chicago Park District, and the Obama Foundation. The plaintiffs, Protect Our Parks, argued federal reviews had not fully examined the detrimental impact of the Presidential Center on the environment.
According to The Hill, the Chicago non-profit Protect Our Parks also made claims that federal regulators failed to consider other areas to build the center, including places that would’ve been “much less harmful to protected resources.”
However, U.S. District Judge Blakey ruled that the city of Chicago didn’t give up control of the Obama Presidential Center’s construction to the Obama Foundation. Blakey noted the Museums Act guides the building of such centers, and “manifests clear legislative intent for the [Obama Presidential Center].”
Judge Blakey additionally stated that places like the Obama facility “confer a public benefit because they ‘serve valuable public purposes, including, but not limited to, furthering human knowledge and understanding, educating and inspiring the public, and expanding recreational and cultural resources and opportunities."
This isn’t the first time Protect Our Parks has attempted to stop the facility’s construction. In 2020, an initial lawsuit filed by the organization against the city of Chicago was dismissed. The non-profit tried to argue that the Chicago Park District and the city of Chicago couldn’t move government-owned park space to the Obama Foundation, which is a nongovernmental entity.
Now that both the initial and the second lawsuits have been dismissed, the construction of the Obama Presidential Center, which began in 2021, will continue in Jackson Park.
A spokesperson for the Obama Foundation said Judge Blakey’s ruling will allow the work to “bring jobs and investment to the South Side” to continue.
According to WTTW News, Herb Caplan, founder of Protect Our Parks, said the non-profit has plans to appeal the ruling.