Obama: Presidential library 'had to be' in Chicago, not Hawaii - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Obama: Presidential library 'had to be' in Chicago, not Hawaii

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Proposals to build Barack Obama's presidential library anywhere but Chicago – including one that would've seen it built on an eight-acre parcel in Kaka'ako – were never going to be seriously considered, the former U.S. president said Wednesday.

"Although we had a formal bidding process to determine where the presidential library was going to be, the fact of the matter was it had to be right here on the South Side of Chicago," Obama said.

The revelation came during a media event in Illinois Wednesday morning, where the former President and First Lady unveiled the facility's design. Construction, they hope, will be completed by 2021.

But Hawaii-based groups were working on plans to lure the library to Oahu well before President Obama even began his first term in office.  

Those plans centered around a $75 million parcel of waterfront property that would've made the facility – which likely would have generated millions per year in revenue – the centerpiece of Kaka'ako redevelopment.

After Obama was re-elected in 2012, local organizers said they hoped Chicago and Hawaii could 'share the wealth' of what they believed would one day become the most-visited presidential library facility in the country.

"We actually think we'll have an opportunity to collaborate with Chicago, and we hope there might be an opportunity to have two centers for the president," said A.J. Halagao, who chaired fundraisers to bring the library to Hawaii, during a 2013 interview. "One in Chicago where he's made his political home and one in Hawaii where he was born."

Obama actually chose Chicago as the site for his library nearly two years ago, though today's unveiling was the first look members of the public had gotten of what the facility would eventually look like.

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