CHICAGO – At least six locations in three different states entered official bids by Monday’s deadline in an effort to house Barack Obama’s presidential library.
Four of the confirmed bidders are from Chicago, the president’s hometown, and a fifth was expected. Obama’s birth state of Hawaii offered an oceanfront location in Honolulu. And Columbia University, where he got his undergraduate degree, pitched a West Harlem site in New York City.
While the Obama Foundation, which is planning the library, declined to confirm the bids it has received, planners for the six widely reported potential locations all confirmed they had submitted proposals. A bid expected from the Bronzeville neighborhood in Chicago could not be immediately confirmed.
Four of the five proposed Chicago locations are on the city’s South Side. They are: the University of Chicago, where Obama taught constitutional law for 12 years; Chicago State University; vacant land in Bronzeville that was part of Chicago’s failed bid for the 2016 Olympics; and a former steel plant near Lake Michigan being pitched by real estate developer Dan McCaffery.
All see the library and museum as a potential driver of economic development. The University of Chicago cited a study it commissioned that concluded the library would draw 800,000 visitors a year and create 1,900 permanent jobs.
“We believe this could be an historic moment for the South Side,” said Susan Sher, a senior adviser to University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer and the woman who is coordinating the school’s push for library.
The University of Illinois-Chicago also is pitching potential locations on and off campus on the city’s West Side.
Hawaii’s bid is being led by the University of Hawaii and backed by the state. The library would sit on oceanfront property in Honolulu, but the university said it would be willing to share the library and museum.
“Hawaii is prepared to host the Obama Presidential Center in its entirety or to partner with another site to help the president create an institution with two campuses and a unified mission,” said David Lassner, president of the University of Hawaii System.
Columbia’s bid would put the library on its new Manhattanville Campus in West Harlem.
The Obama Foundation has said it plans to announce a decision in early 2015.