The Obama Foundation on Tuesday, August 23, announced its proposal for a combined park and parking facility on an underutilized section of the Midway Plaisance across from the future site of the Obama Presidential Center (OPC). The OPC will be located in historic Jackson Park on the South Side of Chicago. The Center aims to strengthen the economic climate in the community by bringing hundreds of thousands of visitors to the South Side every year, creating new jobs on the South Side and revitalizing Jackson Park. The proposed park and parking facility will support those goals by stimulating the streets around the OPC with increased pedestrian activity.
The parking facility is expected to hold 400-450 vehicles. The parking facility will be paid for by the Obama Foundation. The above ground garage will be covered and surrounded by a new 3-4 acre park that will be open to the public and provide views of Jackson Park and its lagoons, and numerous new recreational opportunities, such as a picnic area, a children’s play area and more. The existing Cheney-Goode Memorial will be retained as part of the proposed redevelopment of this parkland. The proposal includes off-street bus drop-off and pick-up, bicycle parking, and a close connection to Metra.
“The Foundation evaluates each proposal for the design of the OPC through the lens of supporting our surrounding community. Building a parking facility on the Midway continues the Obama Foundation’s goal of revitalizing Jackson Park and spurring economic activity across the South Side,” explained David Simas, Chief Executive Officer at the Obama Foundation. “With this proposal, we are increasing foot traffic within the community, not just in Jackson Park, and creating new park space for families to gather and play.”
The Midway Plaisance is owned by the City of Chicago. Pending input from the community and approval by the City Council, the City would convey rights for parking to the Obama Foundation.
In May, the foundation announced their initial design concept for the OPC. In June, July and August, the Obama Foundation has participated in dozens of one-on-one meetings, small group meetings with the community, and public meetings with the City of Chicago, Chicago Park District, Chicago Department of Transportation, and Alderman Leslie Hairston. The Foundation also issued an online survey to receive feedback on its design concepts. Today’s combined park and parking facility proposal includes input from those feedback sessions.