HIGHLAND — As future patrons drive along the reddish brick road meandering across the new Cardinal Campus, some may be visiting the campus for medical purposes, the Town Council learned last week.
The first building is already going up — at the northeast corner of Main Street and Prairie Avenue — to usher in a total of seven two-story professional office buildings and a three-story boutique hotel.
The buildings will be nestled between many landscaped trees, other greenery and a water fountain.
It is turning out that most of the 9-acre campus may become home to various medical professionals.
The developer of the $41.4 million project, Dr. Claude Gendreau, a veterinary surgeon from Buffalo Grove, Illinois, plans to move an animal surgical center into the first building, while other medical people eye the other buildings.
"There's a lot of interest already, and we haven't even broken ground" on the other buildings, Gendreau said, adding that most inquiries have been from medical people.
Bone & Joint Specialists PC, which consists of seven surgeons, is under contract to purchase the ground floor of the second building, Gendreau said.
Cardinal Campus will become their fourth location in Indiana.
Gendreau said another group of physicians likes the second floor of the same building.
"They are interested in some space" there and might possibly buy it, he said.
"The new thing in real estate is 'condoizing' buildings so they can own their space," said Donald Peelman, of Lynwood-based Donald E. Peelman Consulting.
Owning its own space relieves a company from the worry of annual rent increases, he noted.
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Gendreau said ground will be broken on the second building in about three weeks, and the third will start going up in about five weeks.
All three buildings will be occupied and operating by the end of the year, he said.
The hotel should start to rise in about three years, with the overall timeframe calling for the final phase to begin around 2022, Gendreau said.
Prior to the Town Council meeting, the Economic Development and Redevelopment commissions met to approve an official development agreement between all three entities and Cardinal Campus.
The council's unanimous vote sealed the deal. This involves the town's commitment of up to $16.5 million in tax increment finance bonds to be purchased, in several phases, by Gendreau.
The first bonds, for $5.8 million, will be set at a rate of 1 percent over 20 years.
The town will pay back Gendreau through future TIF revenue.
Attorney James Weiser, representing Gendreau, thanked town officials for helping the Cardinal Campus become a reality.
St. John and Schererville are already expressing envy over the Cardinal Campus, said Councilman Bernie Zemen, D-1st.
Gendreau said he is very pleased with the way things have developed with a great public-private partnership.
"Welcome to Highland," was the reply from Council President Mark Herak, D-2nd.