Mayor Emanuel has put his considerable weight behind the University of Illinois at Chicago's (UIC) bid for a future Obama Presidential Library, offering to donate a large West Side site for museum and library. In addition to offering a 23 acre property for the presidential library, the mayor has also pledged to re-open the shuttered Kostner Blue Line station, start a TIF to incubate small business in North Lawndale and provide infrastructure and landscaping services for the library's potential arrival. According to a Crain's article, that would mean a $35 to $40 million investment for the shuttered stop alone.
Before you start claiming Rahm's dissing the University of Chicago's South Side bid (what would Rhymefest say?), Rahm has already pledged his support for that site as well, writing a letter saying as much in June. Hopefully the former Chief of Staff still has some White House clout. Both Chicago bids are in the running, with final proposals due tomorrow and a decision by the President and First Lady expected early next year.
The city-owned site offers plenty of history, as well as a chance to energize and develop a neighborhood and build big without taking up existing parkland. It was once home to a massive Sears & Roebuck complex, a sort of city within a city for workers of the retail giant that boasted a private power plant, hospital and volunteer fire department. In the '60s, Martin Luther King, Jr. chose the area as his base for a northern civil rights movement. More recently, the FBI used the 23 acre site as a dumping ground in the '90s during Operation Silver Shovel, which indicted six alderman.