Obama says presidential center will be hub for youth and community development

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CHICAGO -- Former President Barack Obama says he envisions his future presidential center as an institution where the next generation of young leaders will be trained.

Obama spoke Wednesday at a community forum in Chicago where renderings of the center and library were unveiled.

Obama estimates the center will be finished in four years, but says programming will start this year. The renderings showcase three buildings, including a tower-like museum and tree-lined walk ways. The Obama Foundation says the total center could span up to 225,000 square feet and green space will be preserved.

The former president received a friendly hometown reception from the crowd, which included Mayor Rahm Emanuel, his one-time chief of staff. Obama didn't mention his successor, instead focusing on details about the center, including potential exhibits and traffic patterns.

Obama says he hopes the center will become a hub of activity on Chicago's South Side, where Obama started his political career. The project is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars.

At one point during the panel discussion, Obama said that he and Michelle are going to donate $2 million to Chicago's summer jobs programs. He also said that when the center is finished, it will employ 200 to 300 people. During the center's construction, about 1,400 to 1,500 will be employed.