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Ceremony to break ground on Obama Presidential Center in Chicago

Ceremony to break ground on Obama Presidential Center in Chicago
President Barack Obama delivers his farewell address to a crowd of supporters at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill., on January 10, 2017. File Photo by David Banks/UPI | License Photo

Sept. 28 (UPI) -- After years of concerns brought by community activists and park advocates in Chicago, former President Barack Obama's presidential library will break ground on Tuesday.

Some neighborhood leaders challenged Obama's decision in 2015 to build the library in the city's Jackson Park area, worried it would lead to gentrification and push out moderate- and low-income residents.

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The location is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and was remodeled for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, leading to complaints from park preservationists.

The $500 million proposal for the Obama Presidential Center moved forward after a four-year review by the National Park Service and Federal Highway Administration ended in February.

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Obama said he wanted to build in Jackson Park, near where former first lady Michelle Obama grew up, because of the personal connection and that he wants the library to make a positive change in the area, especially for young people.

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"For us to be able to build a world-class institution that will attract millions of people and bring billions of dollars of benefits and thousands of jobs into a community that so often is forgotten, [that] hopefully will send a signal that those young people count," Obama told ABC's Good Morning America on Tuesday.

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Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, the city's first Black female mayor, and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker are expected to attend Tuesday's groundbreaking.

Obama added that he hopes the library will enhance the park and be a beacon for empowerment.

"Ultimately, what we want to do is empower [people in the community] to do the work where they live in their various communities," he told GMA.

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"And part of the goal of the presidential center is anybody who visits the museum, we want them to come through and, at the end of the museum, we're gonna be asking them the question, 'How can you make a contribution?'"

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