Supreme Court ruling keeps Obama Center work on track

Justice Amy Coney Barrett denied emergency appeal from nonprofit Protect Our Parks 

Chicago /
Aug.August 23, 2021 07:40 AM
Supreme Court ruling favors Obama Center work

Barrack Obama, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, and a rendering of the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park (Barack Obama, Wikipedia)

The U.S. Supreme Court denied a late challenge to the Obama Presidential Center construction project, potentially the last word on stopping the $700 million project in Jackson Park.

Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett rejected an emergency appeal to stop work at the site, denying the motion without comment, according to Crain’s. The group Protect Our Parks has been fighting the project’s location for years partially, on the grounds of environmental concerns and partially over its impact on lower-income renters and residents.

One dispute is over the amount of trees crews will have to take down starting in September. Valerie Jarrett, president of the Obama Foundation — which is funding the project — has said 350 trees will come down. An attorney for Protect Our Parks said it will be more than double that amount.

Protect Our Parks has suffered multiple defeats in recent weeks. Two weeks ago, a federal judge denied a request to prevent the start of construction. Another lawsuit initiated in April has not been resolved.

Despite the court challenges, preparation work began last week on the massive project, which involved taking apart a turf field and track within Jackson Park. The Obama Center has drawn interest from multifamily developers while creating concern from neighborhood advocates who fear it will accelerate gentrification of an affordable neighborhood and drive renters out. While not considered an official presidential library, the development will have a presidential museum, a public library and community center among a host of offerings.

A years-long federal review of the project determined that the construction and necessary road repairs would not have a major impact on the area, paving the way for the project’s approval. Construction on the four buildings of the Obama Center is expected to take around four years.

[Crain’s] — Holden Walter-Warner





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