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Opening date of Obama Presidential Center still uncertain

January 1, 2020 GMT

CHICAGO (AP) — Four years after Chicago was chosen as the site of Barack Obama’s presidential center, it’s still unclear when construction will begin on the $500 million facility.

Early predictions were that the Obama Presidential Center could open as soon as 2020, but a lengthy federal review process has slowed progress. That review is required because of the center’s location in Jackson Park, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Construction can’t start until the review is completed.

The review, which has included public hearings and reports, has completely stalled at times, t he Chicago Tribune reported.


In the meantime, the City Council has approved the project, contractors have been hired and fresh renderings of the project have been released. They show a sprawling campus with outdoor space and several buildings, including a tower with an 88-foot glass expanse. There’ll be an athletic studio, a public library branch and a two-acre children’s play area.

Area residents are impatient with the slow pace of progress. Erin Adams, who lives in the area and belongs to a neighborhood group that supports the project, said “it’s been frustrating.”

“This is the first time I’ve been involved in this type of process. This could be normal, but it seems like it’s taking a long time,” Adams said.

Obama Foundation officials said in a statement that they also feel urgency in starting construction but “appreciate the thorough analysis being conducted.″

The project has hit other snags, including a lawsuit challenging the use of public parkland and protests on resident displacement and gentrification.