Dear President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama:
You are in the process of planning the development of a Presidential Library that reflects President Obama’s values and priorities throughout his career in public service: expanding economic opportunity, inspiring an ethic of American citizenship, and promoting peace, justice, and dignity throughout the world. You envision a facility that, through its mission, initiatives, and physical and virtual presence, can become an anchor for economic development and cultivate a strong relationship with the library’s surrounding community. We respectfully request that you build the Obama Presidential Library on Chicago’s West Side, to be developed in partnership with the Obama Foundation, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the North Lawndale community.
The North Lawndale site includes a library and museum to be built on a vacant, 23-acre city-owned parcel bounded by Roosevelt Road and Kostner, Kildare and Fifth avenues. The CTA Blue Line’s Kostner station will be re-opened if this site is chosen. While the Obama Presidential Library and related buildings will be built and managed with private donations, it should be noted that the North Lawndale site is located in a TIF, and qualifies for a number of public programs and subsidies, including Community Development Block Grants, New Market Tax Credits, TIFWorks, the Small Business Improvement Fund, Neighborhood Improvement Fund, etc.
The UIC site also includes a visitors center and a proposed O-4 Institute for academic-civic collaboration at the corner of Harrison and Halsted on the UIC campus. The O-4 Institute — named for “optimism, outreach, opportunity and one world, extending to the four corners of the world” – will have programs that are consistent with the Obama policy agenda. UIC faculty and students would work with the institute on issues that may include affordable housing, workforce development, literacy, and access to health care. Ideally, the programs offered by the Obama Presidential Library and the O-4 Institute will be developed in concert with the local community and will strengthen our local schools, libraries, trauma centers, neighborhood organizations and community gardens. The O-4 Institute would be a welcomed addition to the UIC’s current programs that impact the community, including the Great Cities Institute, the Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, the Voorhees Center for Neighborhood Improvement and the University of Illinois Extension programs.
Building the Obama Presidential Library on Chicago’s West Side offers the greatest opportunity for community and economic impact of any of the 4 bids under consideration for the OPL. With over 20 million square feet of vacant City-owned land, the impacted West Side communities have more vacant land than any other cluster of neighborhoods in Chicago. North Lawndale, and neighboring West Garfield and East Garfield have not experienced sustained comprehensive development in nearly 60 years. Building the OPL on the West Side provides an unprecedented opportunity to work with local planning agencies and the University of Illinois to develop local and regional land use plans that will leverage the impact of the plan proposed by UIC to touch every West Side Community and extend reach to the Western Suburbs.
In closing, we thank you for your consideration, and sincerely hope that you build the Obama Presidential Library on the West Side of Chicago.
Build The Obama Presidential Library on Chicago's West Side
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