Judge rules Obama Center lawsuit can proceed

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Judge John Robert Blakey has given the go-ahead to the lawsuit intended to stop construction of the $500 million Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park.

The decision to grant standing for the legal action doesn’t mean it will succeed, but it throws a wrench into the planned development.

The ruling relates to the defendants’ motion to dismiss the Protect Our Parks v. Chicago Park District lawsuit, based on the argument that Protect Our Parks lacks standing.

Judge Blakey has set another hearing date for Feb. 27 if issues remain within the lawsuit.

“The Obama Foundation and the University of Chicago created this controversy by insisting on the confiscation of public parkland,” Charles A. Birnbaum, president and CEO of The Cultural Landscape Foundation, said in a statement. “The Obama Foundation could make this issue go away by using vacant and/or city-owned land on the South Side for the Obama Presidential Center (which is planned to be a private facility rather than a presidential library administered by the National Archives), or, better still, land owned by the University of Chicago, which submitted the winning bid to host the Center.”

Under the agreement between the Obama Foundation and the city, the building is to be constructed with private funds, but ownership will be transferred to the city without charge. The Obama foundation would control and pay for the building’s operation.

Lakeside Alliance will be the center’s construction manager. The alliance is a joint venture consisting of the Presidential Partners consortium, which consists of Powers & Sons Construction, UJAMAA Construction, Brown & Momen, and Safeway Construction, partnering with Turner Construction Company.

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