Federal Court Throws Out Suit To Stop Obama’s Presidential Library

Some residents have voiced their concerns of displacement.

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| June 11 2019,

6:33 pm

A federal court dismissed a lawsuit to stop construction of the Obama Presidential Center. The decision clears the way for construction to begin in Jackson Park on the city's southside.

The suit was brought on by environmental group Protect Our Parks. They argued the city illegally transferred land for a park to the privately owned Obama Foundation — who oversees the center's construction. In response, city lawyers argued the group exaggerated potential environmental concerns and misrepresented how the approval process works.

The Chicago Park District sold the land to the city, who then sold the land to the Obama Foundation, according to NBC Chicago. Once the 20-acre center is built, with a 225-foot structure, it will be transferred back to the city for free; the Foundation will purchase the use of the structure for 99 years.

While Protect Our Parks had an environmental agenda, others are focused on displacement concerns to help the mostly black residents stay in the area.

These concerns have led to a proposal at next month's city council meeting, which will ask for 30 percent of the new housing in the area to be affordable housing, funding for local jobs and job training, tax relief for longtime residents, and a property tax freeze among other things, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"It went from being all celebration to serious consideration,” said Devondrick Jeffers, a member of one of the 19 organizations making up the Obama CBA coalition, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. “You all set the tone and changed the conversation around the Obama Center.”

The changing conversation even influenced new Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who has come out in support of a Community Benefits Agreement, something her predecessor Rahm Emmanuel did not support — and neither has The Obama Foundation.

“The Obama Foundation looks forward to working with Mayor Lightfoot and other elected officials, on efforts related to housing, education, and other issues we agree are vital to the revitalization of this community,” said the Foundation in a statement released to the Chicago Sun-Times. “We also look forward to working with the many community organizations and indigenous groups that have long been doing this work across Chicago.”

Although the Protect Our Parks suit was dismissed, lawyers for the group plan to appeal.