Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Former President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance in Chicago to advocate for building his presidential library on the South Side, in Jackson Park.
The 44th president, who worked as a city organizer before being elected as an Illinois representative, said it was "fun to be home."
"I got my start holding community meetings in Chicago, so it was fun to be home for one tonight. Michelle and I want the world to come together on the South Side at a place built with local ideas, values, and hopes," Obama said in a tweet.
Obama said during the second and final public meeting on the project that his presidential center will create jobs and attract businesses and downplayed concerns about increased housing costs that could stem from the future library.
"A lot of times, people get nervous about gentrification and understandably so," Obama said. "It is not my experience ... that the big problem on the South Side has been too much development, too much economic activity, too many people being displaced because all these folks from Lincoln Park are filling in to the South Side. That's not what's happening."
The presidential center, if built on the South Side, would be the first to be located in such a populated, urban area.
Obama said he hopes the center will be a place for young people to train as the next generation of leaders.
"Twenty years from now, I want young people from across the South Side ... to look at this center and say, 'This is a sign that I count. This is a sign I can change the world,'" he said. "That is more important than any legacy I can ever have."
The Obama Foundation is aiming for construction to start this year -- and finish by 2021.
President @BarackObama surprised our public meeting tonight to share his vision for the Obama Presidential Center and our mission to inspire the next generation of leaders: https://t.co/1vrS8lsEMB pic.twitter.com/nGkbKWJjsY- The Obama Foundation (@ObamaFoundation) February 28, 2018