Business fortunes ride on commuter rail stops

Dr. Claude Gendreau stands in front of the 90-year-old bank building he has since converted into a boutique hotel called La Banque, in downtown Homewood. He hopes to build a similar luxury boutique hotel, along with a business complex, in Highland.

HIGHLAND — A boutique hotel and office park stepped closer to the drawing board on Wednesday when the Plan Commission granted primary plat approval for the proposal.

The commission's vote was unanimous.

Earlier this month, the Town Council rezoned the land from residential to business planned unit development — contingent upon the project gaining final approval.

The 9-acre site occupies the corner of Main Street and Prairie Avenue and was recently purchased by Buffalo Grove veterinary surgeon Claude Gendreau, who refers to the development as Cardinal Campus.

Wednesday's action followed a public hearing in which one person spoke against the proposal.

Whispering Oaks resident Carol Kerr, who says she is moving from Highland, said many people do not want the project to be built.

"Nobody listened to us," she told the board members. "What goes around ... comes around," she said of their future plans to hold office.

She also said a stormwater pond, originally in the plan, was removed in favor of illegally sending the water into a detention pond that is owned by Whispering Oaks.

"No one looked out after us," she told the board.

However, attorney James Wieser, representing Gendreau, said that is not true because diligent town officials rejected the idea of using this detention pond.

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"You're the ones who told us to go back, on behalf of your citizens," and find another way because it could cause problems.

As a result, the plan was changed in favor of running a storm sewer line, northward under Prairie, into an existing city stormline under Ramblewood Drive.

This line, in part, sends water into an existing detention pond nearby "just as any other subdivision would," said Building Commissioner Ken Mika.

Aside from getting Gendreau's signature on a document promising that Cardinal Campus utilities would be private, rather than public, there are only a couple moves remaining before breaking ground.

This involves the final plat approval and final PUD approval, Wieser noted.

He added that both could happen at the commission's August meeting.

After breaking ground, Cardinal Campus would take around 10 years to complete.

It would feature seven 2-story office buildings, the 3-story hotel and public open spaces blended with trees and other landscaping.

Gendreau has said he hopes to break ground in the fall.

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