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Rahm's University of Chicago deal: Paving the way for Obama presidential library?

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WASHINGTON--Mayor Emanuel on Friday touted a "first-of-its-kind agreement" between the city and the University of Chicago--"to create jobs, encourage growth and increase cooperation." The U of C for years has been dealing with friction from surrounding neighborhoods as the school expanded its Hyde Park footprint. I find this pact interesting--and could pave the way eventually for the infrastructure and the community cooperation needed to support an Obama Presidential Library.

"Mayor Emanuel today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Chicago and the University of Chicago, which creates a framework for the University and the City to work together to facilitate economic opportunity and collaboration in the Hyde Park neighborhood and surrounding communities," the city said in a statement.

No one close to the Obamas'--or the U of C--dares to talk about an Obama library-- I was told Thursday when I inquired with an insider--not until after the 2012 election. The U of C seems a natural fit--Obama taught at the U of C Law school, the Emanuel children attend the Lab School, First Lady Michelle worked at the U of C Medical Center and dozens of their close associates, including senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, have close ties to the school.

Chicago native Jonathan Alter, in his book about Obama's first year, "The Promise" revealed that the Obama was mulling an "online library."

Wrote Alter, "In the fall of 2009 University of Chicago officials approached the White House about housing Obama's presidential library. They were told it was too early. To the extent that he had thought about a library, he mused to a friend that maybe it should be an "online library," not bricks-and-mortar. This almost certainly won't happen; the demand for a splashy museum will likely be too great. But it said something about his state of mind."

Click below for Emanuel memo of understanding with the U of C...


First-of-its-kind agreement will create jobs, encourage growth and increase cooperation between the City and the University of Chicago

Mayor Emanuel today announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of Chicago and the University of Chicago, which creates a framework for the University and the City to work together to facilitate economic opportunity and collaboration in the Hyde Park neighborhood and surrounding communities.

"I am pleased to announce this historic cooperation agreement with the University of Chicago," said Mayor Emanuel. "The collaboration allows us to achieve more value for taxpayers, as the University and the City work together to create jobs for residents and complete construction projects more efficiently. This agreement will have a profound positive impact on the communities on the South Side of Chicago that neither party would be able to do on its own."

In the MOU, the City commits to creating a plan for development of the public infrastructure surrounding the University of Chicago, and to integrate with a similar plan from the University. This will dramatically reduce the amount of time needed for permitting and licensing for these projects, and will speed up construction significantly - both of which are priorities for Mayor Emanuel.

Further, the Mayor's Office will create an inter-agency task force that will include representatives from several City departments and sister agencies, as well as the Mayor's office. This task force will coordinate with the University to ensure a high level of ongoing collaboration between the University and the City. The City of Chicago has additionally outlined approximately 50 construction projects that it will undertake in the area as part of this multi-year plan.

"This agreement helps ensure that our investments and the City's investments work together to help create a vibrant South Side community," said University of Chicago President Robert J. Zimmer. "It expresses our commitment to working with the City, our neighbors and our local officials, and it supports that ongoing engagement with specific steps each of us will take."

The University of Chicago, in the MOU, commits to work in conjunction with the City and local aldermen to coordinate construction projects and major initiatives. This includes the University's $1.7 billion capital program for the next five years. The University has also committed to providing strong access for minority-and women-owned businesses to be part of these projects, as well as expanding employment opportunities for residents of the surrounding communities. Finally, the University has committed to continuing many of its successful efforts in fostering business diversity, promoting K-12 educational opportunities, ensuring public safety, and facilitating housing stability in the surrounding communities.

This MOU came together with the leadership and cooperation of Alderman Leslie Hairston, Alderman Will Burns, Alderman Willie Cochran and Alderman Pat Dowell, who worked alongside University of Chicago officials and representatives from the Mayor's office to craft an arrangement that benefits the residents of the surrounding communities.

This cooperation initially grew out of Saturday morning meetings that Mayor Emanuel held with leadership from various universities, including the University of Chicago, immediately upon taking office. The MOU is effective immediately. Construction projects initially outlined will take place over the next five years.


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on August 26, 2011 3:00 PM.

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