Site identified for New York's Obama library bid
Chicago Tribune (IL), 2014-06-14
June 14 -- Columbia University in New York City will make a bid to build the Obama presidential library on its Manhattanville campus in West Harlem, where the structure would be a cornerstone of the university's $6.3 billion expansion into the economically depressed neighborhood, a university source confirmed.
The source said that the university planned to vigorously pursue the library as part the campus expansion at 130th Street and Broadway . President Barack Obama earned his undergraduate degree from Columbia in 1983.
Like the University of Chicago , Columbia has put together a bid designed to be an economic engine in communities that lack development and resources. Bids must be submitted to the Barack Obama Foundation by Monday.
Columbia would build the library across the street from two public housing developments, providing immediate access to hundreds of at-risk children from low-income families, according to Kofi Boateng , executive director of the West Harlem Development Corporation , established to represent the community in the expansion plan.
The library would be built on part of the 17-acre site the university plans to develop just north of its Morningside Heights campus.
"Over the next 25 years, Columbia will invest more than $6 billion into academic and research facilities in this community," Boateng said. "As if that is not enough, now we get to possibly be host to the first African-American president's library. We consider that a coup."
The Obama library would be part of a broader mixed-use development including more than 6.8 million square feet of space for teaching, research, underground parking and support services.
The relationship between the university and the West Harlem community has been rocky over the years as the two have battled in court over Columbia's planned expansion into the neighborhood, which is about 40 percent Hispanic and 35 percent African-American, according to Boateng.
In an agreement to ease tensions, Columbia has set up a fund to provide $76 million to the development corporation over a 16-year period to be doled out in community-based grants. The total investment in the community, including a new school and other projects, will be $150 million , Boateng said.
In some ways, the Columbia vision for the library is similar to that of the University of Chicago . According to sources, the U. of C. plans to offer three locations to the Barack Obama Foundation , all of them in predominantly African-American neighborhoods on the South Side . The proposed sites include vacant lots at the Garfield Green Line stop; Jackson Park , across Stony Island Avenue from the Hyde Park Academy High School ; and the South Shore Cultural Center , where Barack and Michelle Obama held their wedding reception.
The Obamas have deep ties to the U. of C. The president was a professor at the law school, and the first lady was an executive at the school's medical center.
But the U. of C. has had a shaky relationship with the surrounding community. The lack of an adult trauma center has been an ongoing issue in the community, where some residents have to travel more than 10 miles by ambulance for such emergency care. The debate has heated up as demonstrators have vowed to fight a proposed Obama library on the South Side unless the university agrees to open a trauma center.
U. of C. officials said it is unfair to expect the university to shoulder the costly burden of a trauma center alone, but they are willing to be part of a "regional effort."
The University of Illinois at Chicago on the Near West Side and Chicago State University on the Far South Side also are making bids, offering properties on their campuses. UIC has proposed building the library on Harrison Field, a spot just southwest of the Circle Interchange with stunning views of the city's skyline.
Chicago developer Dan McCaffrey has proposed that the library anchor his $4 billion retail and residential development planned on the old U.S. Steel South Works site along the lakefront in South Shore .
The Black Metropolis National Heritage Area Commission will propose building the library on the city-owned site of the former Michael Reese Hospital in Bronzeville.
The University of Hawaii wants to build the library on oceanfront property in Kakaako , a commercial and retail district of Honolulu between Ala Moana and Waikiki .
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