Barack Obama visits Jackson Park to mark milestone in Presidential Center construction

Monday, June 10, 2024
Barack Obama visits Presidential Center construction site in Chicago
The Obama Presidential Center construction site in Jackson Park, Chicago, had a special visitor on Monday.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- With his namesake center more than halfway completed, former President Barack Obama visited the site in Jackson Park to thank workers on Monday.

"The sacrifices you have all made, I could not be more grateful," Obama said.

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Obama greeted workers, who are among the thousands who have worked on this project since the Obamas broke ground in 2016.

The tallest structure the tower has reached its height. The eight-floor building is enclosed, and to document that, all who had a part in signed a beam that will go on top.

Despite objections of park land use and concern about local Chicagoans shut out or priced out of the neighborhood, the center has moved forward with the Obamas' design to enhance the landscaping and amenities and to hire locally, specifically with a commitment to bring more Black and Brown tradesmen and women.

"You've got young people learning, have an opportunity that wouldn't have always had. That's not just because of me. That's because of you," Obamas said.

Ernest Brown is one of the general contractors on the project.

"The only thing the Obama Foundation asked us to do was to pass it on, making sure that minorities, women contractors and workers can take advantage of that same thing also," Brown said.

A photo with all of the workers before he left took a little patience to get all in. For some, the encounter was surreal.

"I couldn't even imagine I would be meeting him, so actually shaking hand and him speaking to me was so exciting," said electrical engineering intern Kyla Davis.

Obama will likely be back for other milestone moments coming up on the project.

The home court multi-purpose space is expected to open late next year and the entire center is on track to open spring of 2026.