The Barack Obama Foundation says it will give "fair and level" treatment to each of the 13 bidders fighting to host the presidential library and museum.
The foundation made the vow in a statement Monday as the deadline passed to submit proposals for the future tourist attraction. Bids came from universities and independent developers spanning three states with special meaning for the president: Hawaii, where he grew up; New York's Columbia University, where he studied; and Chicago, where he made his name.
As previously reported, Chicago bidders vying for the library include the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago State University, as well as businessman Dan McCaffery and an alliance of organizations in the South Side's Bronzeville neighborhood.
Sensing an economic opportunity and a potential boon to the South Side -- home of the University of Chicago, where Obama taught constitutional law -- the city has responded to intense pressure to secure the hotspot amid Mayor Rahm Emanuel's push for global street cred and promise to lure 55 million tourists per year by 2020.
Earlier this year, Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan sponsored a deeply unpopular bill to earmark $100 million in state money as a down payment to influence Obama's decision. That measure won the support of Emanuel, Obama's former chief of staff, and remains in congressional limbo.
The Obama Foundation, which plans to select a location in early 2015, said it will narrow the list of applicants and ask frontrunners to submit more detailed pitches later this summer.
"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," said the foundation.
Meanwhile, the University of Hawaii confirmed it would consider sharing the library with another institution, a concession that underscores a belief that it is Chicago's for the taking -- even though the Aloha State is offering up prime oceanfront real estate.
As they say: If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.