UNIVERSITY VILLAGE — UIC wants to build over part of the Eisenhower Expy. as part of its bid to construct a two-site Obama Presidential Library on the city's West Side.
Last week, the University of Illinois at Chicago submitted a comprehensive proposal to host the Obama Presidential Library. The proposal was submitted in conjunction with the Steans Family Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving the North Lawndale community.
UIC's proposal is one of four in the running to host the Obama Presidential Library.
Under the UIC proposal, the university would build over the freeway system near the Jane Byrne Interchange where the Kennedy, Dan Ryan and Eisenhower expressways intersect. The green space would include recreational areas and urban farms.
Stephanie Lulay says the decision will be coming soon:
The new green gateway would act "as an urban living room" to reconnect "neighborhoods that had been previously divided by the crude necessities of interstate transportation development," the full proposal states.
UIC's two-site proposal calls for the library and museum to be located at a vacant 23-acre city-owned site in North Lawndale and an institute to be located on the UIC campus.
"President Barack Obama's legacy belongs in Chicago, tied to an urban campus with a public mission," UIC's video proposal states.
North Lawndale Site
In a letter to the Obama Foundation, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that he would support the city's donation of the North Lawndale site and would work to reopen the CTA Blue Line's Kostner station if the UIC proposal is chosen. The city-owned property is bounded by Roosevelt Road and Kostner, Kildare and Fifth avenues.
Under the plan, the library and museum would serve as the centerpiece of a new town square that would be developed in North Lawndale. The hub would generate commercial and residential development in the neighborhood, said Patricia Ford, executive director of the Steans Family Foundation.
The foundation "strongly believes the UIC-North Lawndale presidential corridor will serve as a testament to inclusiveness, revitalization and renewal — life-changing principals shared by the Steans Family Foundation, UIC, North Lawndale and the president," Ford wrote in a letter of support.
The Steans Family Foundation has pledged $5 million to support the presidential library site in North Lawndale.
A new bike trail and pedestrian corridor would be developed near the defunct "Sears line" viaduct that enters the middle of the site from the east.
A visitors center and proposed "O-4 Institute" for academic-civic collaboration would be hosted on the UIC campus at Harrison and Halsted streets.
The O-4 Institute — which stands for "optimism, outreach, opportunity and one world" — would host fellowships for academics and junior fellowships for high school students, according to Anne Brooks Ranallo, a UIC spokeswoman.
UIC faculty and students would work with the institute on issues that may include affordable housing, workforce development, literacy and access to health care, according to the proposal.
The O-4 Institute site would overlook the Downtown skyline and Jane Byrne Interchange and is directly above the Blue Line's UIC-Halsted station.
Under the proposal, the Obama Campus would be connected to the lakefront Museum Campus by a rapid transit bus line along Roosevelt Road. The university hopes to create "an east-west cultural and civic corridor extending from the lakefront museum campus through UIC to North Lawndale."
The University of Chicago also has submitted a proposal to host the presidential library. Under the University of Chicago bid, the Obama Presidential Library would be located at Garfield Boulevard and Martin Luther King Drive near Washington Park, at 63rd Street and Stony Island Avenue near Jackson Park or at 71st Street and South Shore Drive near the South Shore Cultural Center.
U. of C.'s three proposed sites are all on the city's South Side. Obama's family home is in Kenwood on the South Side.
In addition to the two Chicago proposals in Obama's adult hometown, Columbia University in New York and the University of Hawaii also submitted bids last week.
In New York, Columbia University aims to build the library in West Harlem. Obama is a Columbia grad.
The Hawaii plan calls for a dramatic view of the famed Diamond Head volcanic center, near the town where he grew up, according to an Associated Press report. The 8-acre spot, between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, would be powered by solar energy and support vegetable gardens on site. Obama grew up in Hawaii.
UIC's full proposal is available here.
The Barack Obama Foundation said it will make a decision on the library's location early next year.
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