CHICAGO — The Illinois Finance Authority board Tuesday advanced borrowing plans for several retirement communities and authorized up to $480 million in bonds for the University of Chicago to refund debt and fund projects, including a new research center for its molecular engineering program and astronomy and astrophysics work.

The university deal was granted preliminary approval by the IFA board Tuesday. It includes about $200 million of new-money borrowing to help pay for $373 million worth of projects and up to $280 million of refunding bonds that will tapped depending on market conditions and potential interest-rate savings.

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