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Article posted: 4/27/2013 8:00 AM

Proposed veterans museum in Hoffman Estates has money to buy land, president says

Close to $40 million in hand to buy land in Hoffman Estates

By Jessica Cilella

The president of the proposed National Veterans Museum in Hoffman Estates said Friday he believes enough money has been raised to buy the land for the project.

President Joe Cantafio said the museum is close to its $40 million goal to buy the 448 acres near the northwest corner of Beverly Road and I-90 in mid-June.

He said the funding is coming primarily from three anonymous individual donors who are either veterans or family members of veterans.

"To see it come this far -- I know there's not shovels in the ground yet -- but it puts a lump in my throat," said Cantafio, who added he has been working on the museum concept for eight years.

The tentative groundbreaking date is Sept. 11. Cantafio believes the project -- which projected to cost between $800 million and $1 billion -- will be complete in just three years.

"We are still on track to open in 2016 on Veterans Day," Cantafio said.

Earlier this month, Cantafio and the museum's chairman, retired Gen. James Conway, came to a Hoffman Estates village board meeting to thank staff members for the support they have given the museum so far.

"The village of Hoffman Estates has been incredible, bending over backward to make sure, so far, the process moves smoothly," Cantafio said.

Hoffman Estates Mayor William McLeod said village officials are talking with museum officials every few weeks to see how they are coming along.

"They're working very hard on it," he said. "They seem to have made progress."

McLeod said the village has looked over concept plans but hasn't done much more, as the land for the project hasn't been purchased yet.

Museum officials are planning to build the 325,000-square-foot museum without the use of any public funds. Military contractor Northrop Grumman Corp. is a confirmed contributor to the project, as is Motorola, which recently made a donation of 15 two-way radios -- which Cantafio said have a value of $12,000 -- and 15 surveillance kits to with security.

Representatives from the two corporations, along with Dunn-Edwards Paints staff members, have expressed interest in naming opportunities too, which Cantafio said range from $5 million to $20 million.

Five cents from every sale of the bullet-shaped .50 Cal Energy drink is also being donated to the museum.

In the last year, according to Cantafio, officials have been gathering artifacts for the museum, including a 1942 World War II Harley Davidson with sidecar, a World War II American halftrack known as a "meat chopper," a WWI Army duck and a World War II troop transport truck used at the Battle of the Bulge.

Over the summer, Cantafio and Conway have plans to visit the families of the Doolittle Raiders -- who made a daring bombing run over Tokyo in 1942 -- and Sgt. Alvin C. York, a Medal of Honor recipient from World War I to discuss acquiring more material donations.

"Our collections have not stopped," he said. "We're still aggressively looking for artifacts."

For more on the museum, visit nvmuseum.org.

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