South Side best side
Barack Obama’s presidential library will be constructed in the South Side of his hometown of Chicago – a decision that has many developers excited to revive the neighborhood.
However, the decision is also leaving some longtime residents worried that they may be pushed out.
A museum for everyone
At a meeting this month, Obama presented plans for the library, which will be, in his words, more than just a “big building that’s dead,” but rather, “a hub for the community,” complete with a sledding hill, community garden, and outdoor barbeque grills.
While the audience snickered at Obama’s promise of barbeque, the former president insists that the library will be “alive,” and not a place where “kids are getting dragged…for a field trip.”
The library won’t be completed for another four years, but real estate prices are already on the rise.
Local real estate agents recently told the Chicago Sun-Times that average sale prices have risen 11 percent in the past year.
“I do think that real estate prices in South Shore will increase by about 10% to 15%” Sheila Dantzler, a broker with Chicago’s Related Realty.
“An attraction like the Obama library will draw people who live in Chicago who may have never even been to South Shore or south of Hyde Park. They will see is a lovely lakefront community. People who would have never considered living on the South Side may now have a positive perspective and realize how much more they can get for the money.”
Already existent South Siders
Longtime South Side residents, however, may be less than thrilled to see an influx of buyers. At a community meeting in April, citizens and several organizations met to discuss concerns that rising real estate prices will drive out existing residents.
A group of several grassroots groups has formed as the Obama Library South Side Community Benefits Agreement Coalition.
The Coalition is organizing to create an agreement that will ensure that current residents of South Side are the primary beneficiaries of the influx of economic activity that the presidential library will surely bring.
They’d like the library to promise to provide jobs for locals, protect low-income residents, and support Black-owned local businesses.
Said Deborah Taylor of Southside Together Organizing for Power of the presidential library, “We want to be sure when it floats, we float with it.”