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The proposed Obama Presidential Center has aroused the opposition of a group of University of Chicago professors, faculty and staff.

Obama was born in Hawaii, but lived in Chicago after college and met the former first lady, Michelle, there.

"Michelle and I want this center to be more than just a building".

The Obama Center as now planned will not provide the promised development or economic benefits to the neighborhoods. Some of the brilliance of Frederick Olmsted's plan for Jackson Park is dormant on on a gray January day, but spring may reveal more about what future visitors will see in the park.

In its current location, the Obama Presidential Center will not provide "promised development or economic benefits" to the local community, the professors wrote in the letter, and will cost taxpayers as much as $100 million in infrastructure renovations to the surrounding area.

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The foundation, however, announced Monday that it has opted to drop the plans for an above-ground garage in favor of an underground parking lot, according to the Associated Press. The garage was initially slated to take up five acres on the historic Midway Plaisance, another part of the Chicago park system.

The facility will be built along Lake Michigan on Chicago's South Side.

A spokesperson for the Obama Foundation said the center has earned the support of "thousands of people in our community and across the city who have weighed in at public meetings, online, and in residential meetings around the area". "We've reimagined the landscape plans and the recreational spaces".

This is not to say that the economic needs of the neighborhoods around Jackson Park should be ignored. But the patchwork "remedies" presented by the Obama Foundation do not address the fundamental problem of Jackson Park being the wrong choice for the center. The foundation has adapted plans after hearing from the community and has committed to projects and programs to improve lives on the Southside.


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