CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a crucial day for the University of Chicago, as it tries to secure its bid for the Obama Presidential Library and Museum.
The Chicago City Council was set to vote Wednesday on an ordinance that could make or break the university’s bid, by giving the city control of Park District land the U of C has proposed as the site of the library.
Aldermen were expected to approve the Emanuel administration’s plan to transfer control of about 20 acres of land in either Washington Park or Jackson Park to the city, if President Barack Obama chooses the University of Chicago’s bid for his presidential library.
The University of Chicago has long been considered a front-runner, but the Barack Obama Foundation has raised concerns about the bid, as neither the university nor the city control the land the university wants to use.
The Chicago Park District and the Chicago Plan Commission already have approved the agreement, and the City Council vote is the final hurdle.
The University of Chicago’s plan would call for the library to be built on 3 to 5 acres of land in Jackson Park or Washington Park. The agreement with the Emanuel administration would require the remaining 15 to 18 acres of the library site to be open green space. The city also would have to replace the open space given up for the library building by providing an equal amount of green space elsewhere in the city.
The university is competing with three other bids for the library. The University of Illinois at Chicago has proposed building the library in North Lawndale on the West Side, on 23 acres of land already owned by the city, and the mayor has committed to donating that land to UIC if it gets the library. Columbia University in New York City and the University of Hawaii in Honolulu also are competing for the library, and Columbia has been seen as the most formidable opposition to Chicago.
The Chicago Tribune reported Wednesday that Obama said he hopes the library lands in Chicago.
The Barack Obama Foundation originally was set to announce the location of the library by the end of the month, but after Mayor Rahm Emanuel was forced into a runoff in the race for mayor, the foundation decided to wait until after the April 7 election to announce its selection.
Both the mayor and challenger Jesus “Chuy” Garcia have said they support bringing the Obama Library to Chicago, on park land.