Developer Lendlease is preparing to kick-off construction on the next building of the multiphase Southbank development along the south branch of the Chicago River. Known as the Reed, the 41-story building is on track to break ground at 234 W. Polk Street this summer and open in 2023. 

The waterfront high-rise is the second building of the Southbank development—joining a 29-story tower called the Cooper. But unlike its all-rental sibling next door, the Reed will feature 224 apartments plus 216 for-sale condos priced from $400,000 to $1.4 million.

The Reed (center) will rise between the banks of the Chicago River and an existing apartment tower known as the Cooper (left).Lendlease

“The Reed represents a great opportunity to buy a condominium along the Chicago River,” said Linda Kozloski, creative design director at Lendlease. “In the South Loop market there haven't been many big buildings with a for-sale product. You have to go back in time to find comps.”

Although the Reed isn’t expected to open for another two years, Lendlease is offering an interesting “rent-to-buy” program in the Cooper. Individuals who sign a contract at the Reed can rent next door while the new tower is being built. Fifty percent of rental payments (up to 2.5 percent of the sale price) can be recouped as a credit at closing.

“You can settle in the neighborhood while your unit is still under construction,” said Kozloski. “Or maybe you already live in the Cooper and want to graduate to a larger unit in the Reed or decide that you want to buy in the new building.”

The design of the upcoming tower comes from Perkins + Will and is described by Kozloski as “industrial chic” as a nod to the site’s history as a rail yard. This motif is expressed in the darker metal on the building’s exterior and the metal accents, exposed concrete, and oak wood of its interior spaces.

All residents in the Reed will have access to an eighth-floor pool deck featuring grilling stations, fire pits, and an outdoor kitchen. Other amenities include a show kitchen, a lounge with a pool table, coworking space, a sports simulator, and an indoor/outdoor fitness center. Condo owners will have exclusive access to a separate second-floor amenity level overlooking the river.

The Reed offers a wide array of amenities to its residents including an eighth-floor deck. Condo owners have exclusive access to a lounge space on the second level.Courtesy Lendlease

The Reed will also bring enhancements to the adjacent 2.5-acre Southbank Park which was designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects and completed in 2019. The new tower will cantilever above a planned extension of the park’s existing riverwalk that will wrap around the building’s base to connect to Polk Street and a planned water taxi stop near River City. 

As developers eventually complete other multi-phase developments planned for the river’s south branch (such as Riverline and The 78), Southbank’s riverwalk will someday extend all the way down to Chinatown’s Ping Tom Park.

Although official groundbreaking on the Reed is still some months off, pre-construction work is already underway on the northern edge of Southbank Park. Crews are addressing a series of underground tunnels that run beneath the site that will need to be sealed before foundation work can begin, according to Kozloski. 

For Lendlease, it’s still too early to start talking much about the phases of Southbank planned beyond the Reed, but Kozloski says her team is envisioning a completed development comprising four buildings—down from the five towers envisioned in the parcel’s original masterplan.

A diagram on the Reed’s website indicates that the final two buildings will rise 40 and 42 stories and occupy the eastern portion of the site, flanking the 14-story Alta Grand Central apartment development at the corner of Wells and Harrison.

A drawing showing the location of the Cooper, the Reed, and the next two phases of the Southbank megadevelopment. Courtesy Lendlease