Obama library location to be announced Tuesday

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015
Obama library location to be announced Tuesday
The location of the Barack Obama Presidential Center will officially be announced Tuesday, the Obama Foundation said.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The location of the Barack Obama Presidential Center will officially be announced Tuesday, the Obama Foundation confirmed. Earlier this month, sources said the library would go to the University of Chicago, where Obama taught and near the family's Kenwood home.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will be at the news conference, the strongest sign that Chicago did, indeed, win the highly-sought after library. Other finalists were the University of Hawaii, Columbia University and the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Two locations are in the running under the University of Chicago bid: Jackson Park and Washington Park. The announcement is not expected to include which South Side site will be chosen.

"I think it's a unique opportunity that will economically as well as culturally educationally pay a dividend in whatever neighborhood he picks for years to come," Mayor Emanuel said.

Neighbors, like Natasha Brown, hope the library will increase their property values.

"Washington or Jackson? That close. It's perfect because we're right in the middle," Brown said.

Brown's realtor, Sarah Ware, expects the library will bring more home buyers to the city's South Side.

"We often hear of the negative things. So as positive as the Obama library is, the announcement, it may not increase values overnight, but it's just another reason for people to look at this area," Ware said.

While Lee Hogan is glad the library is coming to Chicago, she hopes an increase in property values won't push out small businesses, like her food store, which has been in the neighborhood for 17 years.

"Will we be able to stay?" Lee Hogan, Miss Lee's Good Food, said.

Experts say Chicagoans should look to Little Rock, Arkansas for clues about what a presidential library may mean.

"They transcend politics and transform communities. Wait and see!" said Jordan Johnson, of the Clinton Foundaiton.

With its replica Oval Office, archives and exhibits, the Clinton Presidential Center transformed an economically-depressed part of Little Rock. Three million people have visited in the 10 years it's been open.

"The Clinton Center has served as an anchor and rebuilt a community on the east side of Little Rock and broke a barrier caused by an interstate," Johnson said. " It transformed an area that was a desolate wasteland and is now a vibrant center of economic growth."

Others caution presidential libraries tend to see the number of visitors drop after the first year. Their main focus is often polishing up a president's image .

"The local community might be thinking they're getting a lot out of this but if they don't make it clear what they expect - and play a role - they might be disappointed," said Anthony Clark, author of "The Last Campaign".

For the latest developments on the Obama Presidential Library, stay tuned to ABC7 Eyewitness News starting at 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. You can watch the news conference on the Obama Library on ABC7Chicago.com or in the ABC7 Chicago news app at 12 p.m. Tuesday.