Wednesday 17 January 2018

Chicago will host Obama library

Barack Obama taught at the University of Chicago before becoming president (AP)
Barack Obama taught at the University of Chicago before becoming president (AP)

President Barack Obama has chosen his home town of Chicago to host his future presidential library.

The decision places the permanent monument to his legacy in the city that launched his improbable ascent to the White House.

The library will be built on Chicago's South Side, where the University of Chicago has proposed two potential sites not far from the Obama family's home.

It was unclear which of the two sites had been selected for the highly coveted library, but officials were expected to make an announcement within weeks.

The decision brings to a close a hard-fought competition that kicked off in the earliest days of Mr Obama's second term.

A process that started quietly ramped up into high gear when long-time Obama associates formed the Barack Obama Foundation, which recently recommended the winner to the president and first lady Michelle Obama.

From an initial list of about a dozen proposals, the foundation chose four universities to vie for the library.

In recent months it became increasingly clear that the Obamas were leaning toward the University of Chicago, the elite private school where Mr Obama taught law before becoming president.

The University of Chicago's victory marks a let down for the other three schools on the shortlist - the University of Hawaii, New York's Columbia University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

The presidential library is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to build and serve as an economic engine for the surrounding area.

Mr Obama's decision to place the library in Chicago was conveyed to The Associated Press by two individuals with direct knowledge of the decision.

The president's foundation, the University of Chicago and the White House all declined to comment.

Although the Obamas had intended to announce the winning site by the end of March, Chicago politics and Mr Obama's busy schedule led to multiple delays.

The foundation's chairman, Mr Obama's close friend and Chicago businessman Marty Nesbitt, spoke to the president earlier in the week about the announcement.

But a news conference scheduled for Wednesday to announce the decision was postponed at the last minute, and is now expected to be rescheduled for mid-May.

Despite vocal opposition from a park preservation group, the City of Chicago moved to acquire access to the property.

And state politicians fast-tracked legislation ensuring that Chicago could use public park land for the project, all but ensuring the library would go to the South Side.

Press Association

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