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A rendering of what Highland's Cardinal Campus will look like

This rendering shows what Highland's planned Cardinal Campus is expected to look like when the project of office buildings and a boutique hotel are completed in several years.

HIGHLAND – The Town Council on Monday took steps to assist the financing of the Cardinal Campus.

Last week, the Highland Economic Development and Redevelopment commissions got the ball rolling by specifying that Tax Increment Finance bonds, which will be purchased by the developer, cannot exceed $16.5 million.

On Monday, the council made it official by voting unanimously for the bonds.

The EDC said total construction and engineering costs are estimated at $42.5 million. The Cardinal Campus is being built at the northeast corner of Main Street and Prairie Avenue.

When completed over the next half decade, the 9-acre site is expected to host an animal surgical center, six two-story office buildings and a three-story boutique hotel.

The actions by both commissions took place after public hearings were held.

The developer, Dr. Claude Gendreau, a veterinary surgeon from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, will purchase the bonds, which will be paid back to him through future TIF revenue.

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"I favor (this arrangement), because the developer is going to be the sole liable party," said Commissioner/Highland Clerk-Treasurer Michael Griffin. "His track record with us, and his previous developments, reinforce my belief in the project and its financing."

Griffin noted that the bonds could be taken out with several bond issues, as needed, and that the final amount could be less than the not-to-exceed amount.

Repaying Gendreau for his initial investment serves as incentive for him to locate the upscale office park and hotel within Highland's borders, board members noted.

To accommodate the TIF, which is solely for the Cardinal Campus, the Redevelopment Commission also revised the Highland Acres Economic Development Area, which consists of the Cardinal Campus and an adjacent commercial area at the corner of Main and Indianapolis Boulevard.

To keep the TIF confined to Cardinal Campus, the commission divided Highland Acres into two sections to keep them separate within the development area.

The resolution adopted by the EDC says, in part: "It is estimated that the project will create approximately 527 permanent full-time jobs upon full development. The initial phase, consisting of the veterinary surgical center and the boutique hotel, are expected to provide an annual payroll of ($1.5 million) once operational."

Ground was broken late last year for the project, and initial construction is now underway.

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