President Obama's approval rating may be upside down in some polls, but it hasn't lessened the crowded field of contenders vying for his presidential library.
Proposals on where to put the library are due today, according to the Barack Obama Foundation, the group that will collect funds and help weigh the options -- though the final decision will depend on the Obamas. The proposals will be treated as confidential, with no details revealed by the foundation, which on Tuesday will announce the number of proposals it received.
Proposals are expected from Hawaii, where Obama was born, to Columbia University, which Obama attended. But the largest number is expected from Chicago, where Obama taught law, was a community organizer and built his early political career.
A presidential library is the repository of documents and other material that is the administration. It also includes a museum and often an educational center and auditorium. It is considered nonpartisan and is run by the federal government, although it is built with non-federal funds donated to the foundation.
But the complex is more than a well of history. It many cases it is an economic generator, bringing tourists and their dollars to the area. It can also stimulate economic development in a neighborhood and region. For all those reasons, competition to host a presidential library is keen.
On Monday, the University of Illinois at Chicago announced a third potential site for its bid, hoping to bring the library to a part of the city that could use some development help and saying it would be a landmark honoring Obama's early years as a community organizer. The latest proposal by the university and the North Lawndale neighborhood is for a 23-acre vacant lot at Roosevelt Road and Kostner Avenue on Chicago's West Side. The other two proposed sites are closer to the school's campus.
But UIC is facing off against a powerhouse, the University of Chicago, where Obama taught for 12 years. It has proposed a variety of sites on Chicago's South Side where Michelle Obama was raised and where she worked.
Though Chicago is seen as the leading contender -- especially given the number of separate proposals -- it is not alone.
The University of Hawaii has said it wants to build the library on oceanfront property in Kakaako, a commercial and retail district in Honolulu.
Though a long shot, Columbia University in New York has long been a major landlord along the West Side of Manhattan and in parts of Harlem.
“I think Columbia University is a perfect place for President Obama's museum, and I'm not sure if they're going to have one facility or multiple facilities, but I hope that we get at least one piece if they do break it up into pieces,” New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference last week. “I certainly have made an effort, I've certainly let the Obama team know that we are excited about the idea, we would do anything we can to be helpful to it.”
It is unclear whether the foundation will disclose the front-runners. A decision is expected next year.
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