13 bid to host Obama library

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Thirteen sites have submitted initial bids to host the Obama Presidential Library.

The Barack Obama Foundation did not announce a list of the candidate cities, but the University of Chicago, Chicago State University and Columbia University are among the sites that have gone public with their bids.

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The Obama Foundation is overseeing the fundraising and construction of the archive and museum, and will now winnow the initial group of bidders into a shortlist that will be considered by the president and first lady.

“We appreciate the time, effort, and planning that have gone into the 13 responses we’ve received to the Foundation’s Request for Qualifications,” Martin Nesbitt, the chairman of the foundation, said in a statement. 

“These ideas will ultimately help us build a library that reflects President Obama’s priorities and values throughout his life and career, and makes our whole nation proud. We will run a level and fair process to evaluate how well each response captures the vision and goals of the future Obama Presidential Library, and based on what we see, the Foundation will identify a short-list of potential partners to receive a Request for Proposal later this summer.”

The University of Chicago, where Obama taught constitutional law and the first lady worked as a hospital administrator, told the Chicago Sun-Times that its bid is focused on how a facility on the city's South Side could positively impact the city's historically African-American communities. 

“Community engagement has been, I would say, the central feature to date of our effort in putting together this proposal,” said former Obama aide Derek Douglas, who now serves as the university's vice president for civic engagement.

The University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago State University, and a private developer in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood have also submitted bids to house the library in Chicago.

Columbia University, where Obama studied as an undergraduate, also submitted a bid to host the library on its Manhattan campus, a spokesman told the student newspaper. 

“We would be honored to have the president and Mrs. Obama join our university community after leaving the White House,” Columbia said in a statement. “We believe Columbia and New York City would provide a fitting platform for a post-presidency engaged in the vital issues of our time, while further adding to our core mission of teaching, research and public service.”

The state of Hawaii, where Obama grew up as a child, is also thought to be among the candidates submitting bids.