While the Obama Presidential Center has recently taken several key steps toward construction, its groundbreaking seems to have slipped once again.
Contrary to an earlier announcement that work would begin in August, Obama Foundation president Valerie Jarrett and construction chief Lori Healey told Crain's Chicago Business that pre-construction will start "around September 1" with actual construction happening "two months later but definitely before winter."
According to the interview, the sprawling Jackson Park complex still needs to obtain building permits to proceed. However, city-led improvements to the park, such as work to construct a replacement running track near the center, could still move forward this spring.
One thing the Obama Foundation won't have to worry about in cash to build the project. The organization has $847 million in cash on hand from donations and other commitments, according to the report. That figure is above the center's estimated $700 million price tag.
Destined by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, the South Side development includes a 235-foot-tall museum building, a new Chicago Public Library branch, a public plaza, an athletic facility, an underground parking garage, and a community garden.
Zoning for the Obama Presidential Center was approved by the city in 2018. At that time, the project's organizers said it planned to break ground later that year and open the center in 2021.
That timeline was derailed by a multi-year federal review of the center and its impact on historic Jackson Park. The project also faced a lawsuit from open space activists challenging the legality of handing over parkland to a private entity. A judge dismissed the case in 2019.
Regardless of when groundbreaking ultimately occurs, the OPC is expected to take four years to complete. By that estimation, Chicagoans can expect to see former President Obama cut the ribbon on his center in late 2025—barring any more delays, of course.