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The Obama Center is already changing the South Side

By Sidney Madden | @sidney_madden_


Massive developments change neighborhoods, and the Obama Presidential Center is no different. 

Rent started increasing in Woodlawn and South Shore after former President Barack Obama announced the nearly 20-acre campus would be in nearby Jackson Park in 2016, South Side Weekly reported.

DuSable Lake Shore Drive, Hayes Drive, and Stony Island Avenue are all being widened to accommodate what’s expected to be more traffic

The Jackson Park Advisory Council recently tried to make membership more exclusive, saying meeting attendance had ballooned since the Obama Center picked the area, according to WTTW

And the center only broke ground in the fall — so more change is on the way. 

Community organizers like Dixon Romeo of the Obama Community Benefits Agreement (CBA) Coalition are working so residents don’t get displaced. 

A CBA is a legally binding agreement between a developer and residents. The developer gets the community’s support in return for commitments to the community. But the Obama Center hasn’t agreed to this, City Bureau’s Sarah Conway told City Cast. 

So advocates like Romeo have pushed for fair housing ordinances instead — successfully in Woodlawn and potentially in South Shore soon. 

🎧 Learn more about the Obama CBA on today’s podcast

👉 Check out City Bureau’s CBA guide.


▪️ The Chicago Police Department has denied hundreds of public records requests for questionable reasons. [South Side Weekly]

▪️ Madigan will be arraigned in a telephone hearing today after he was indicted last week. ComEd has been the only business named in the alleged scheme so far, but AT&T could be next. [Chicago Tribune]

▪️ The Pitchfork lineup is out! Catch me buying a Saturday pass soon 👀

▪️ The Chicago City Wide Orchestra is resuming rehearsals and is looking for musicians! No audition necessary.

▪️ Read the wise words of Chicagoans like singer Mavis Staples, late historian Timuel Black, and more. [Chicago magazine]

▪️ Give it up for Jalissa and Malachi, aka the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs youth and junior youth of the year!


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Reader Dea Black Alexander tried to see “The Banker” for a movie date night while her 8-year-old was at a school thing on March 6, 2020. But the theater listed the times wrong, so she wound up watching it at home on Apple TV. 

By mid-March, parent-teacher conferences were conducted remotely and school was canceled just days later.

“Two years later, nearly to the day, on March 14, we’ll be going mask-optional at school,” she said. 

Tell us about the last normal thing you did before COVID shutdowns two years ago — and if you’re back at it. Email or text/call (773) 780-0246.


FRIDAY: Virtual storytelling workshop
A year after eight people, including six Asian American women, were killed in the Atlanta spa shootings, the Hana Center is hosting a storytelling event in their honor.

SUNDAY: International Women’s Day market in Ravenswood 
Shop from over two dozen women-owned businesses at Artifact Events.

THIS MONTH: Frida Kahlo exhibit in Pilsen
See works and artifacts that inspired the famous artist as well as the art she inspired at the National Museum of Mexican Art.

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