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HIGHLAND — Twenty months ago, Dr. Claude Gendreau approached Highland officials with a plan to build a boutique hotel/office complex on the southwest side of town.

The proposed development consisted of seven two-story office buildings, one three-story boutique hotel and public open spaces on the edge of the Whispering Oaks subdivision at Main Street and Prairie Avenue.

Gendreau, a veterinary surgeon from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, recently joined a group of dignitaries for the grand opening of his Veterinary Orthopedic Center.

Pet owners will find a state-of-the-art clinic with antiseptic surgical suites devoted to their dogs and cats, including rehabilitation and pain management.

When the dust settles over the next few years, Gendreau's new facility will be joined by six other two-story office buildings at Main Street and Prairie Avenue.

They will be complemented by a new three-story boutique hotel.

The buildings of Cardinal Campus will stand among numerous trees, lots of greenery and a fountain square by the motel.

They will be woven together by a brick paver road that meanders across the nine-acre campus.

As people follow that brownish brick road, their destinations will range from advanced pet care to medical care for themselves — and offices from other fields of business.

With Gendreau's grand opening, the development's first phase — construction of the first three buildings — is nearing completion.

Gendreau says he will not be the only medical professional making the complex his new home.

The entire first floor of building two is being purchased by Bone and Joint Specialists.

"We were interested in the Cardinal Campus due to the location and the unique design behind the urban development," said Practice Manager Cori Johnson, adding that this will be in addition to their other locations in Valparaiso, Hobart, Munster and Merrillville.

The facility will boast six doctors and 25 to 30 rotating staff members.

The new location should be open for business in fall 2019.

Also pending is the purchase of more than 5,000 square feet of the first floor in the third building by Urologic Specialists of Northwest Indiana.

This group of nine urologists has offices in Merrillville, Munster, Hobart and Valparaiso.

The new Highland location will replace the current one in Munster, said urologist/co-manager Dr. Bruce Yalowitz.

"It will include 12 exam/procedure rooms for a single specialty urologic practice," Yalowitz said. "Our hope is to be in the new space by spring of 2019. We will have up to four doctors and 10 to 15 staff there at any one time."

Realtor David Lasser said the two groups are expected to officially purchase their spaces after the buildings are completed around Jan. 15.

Then they will begin customizing the interiors and equipping their offices for their medical specialties.

Work will begin on buildings four and five when the rest of the first buildings are sold or leased out, Gendreau said.

"I hope this will be in the spring of 2019," he said.

He also said that the hotel will probably go up in two or three years.

Lasser noted that Cardinal Campus also is generating a lot of interest from office-related firms, continuing education, higher education and business-college related institutions, law firms and engineering — especially with its proximity to the steel mills.

As the project continues, traffic signals at the Main Street entrance have been delivered and soon will be installed, Gendreau noted.

All the buildings will earn LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) credentials, said architect Tim Kirkby of Farr Associates.

"Cardinal Campus will be the first LEED-certified neighborhood development plan in Northwest Indiana," he said.

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