Construction Update
A Reed Sprouts Along the Chicago River’s Southbank

It’s been a good year for apartment balcony gardens like mine. Though I didn’t try pumpkins, watermelon, or corn this year (all successful in previous years), the flowers are flowering, the hummingbirds are humming, and the ornamental grass successfully conceals the brick wall of the neighboring building.

Also playing James Crockett in his victory garden is .oz concern Lendlease, which recently planted a building called The Reed in the South Loop. Now, according to photos bedded in our tip line by Loop Spy Jody, the Southbank furrow along the south branch of the Chicago River has sprouted a tower crane.

The Reed under construction in September, 2021 (Courtesy of South Loop Spy Jody)
The Reed under construction in September, 2021 (Courtesy of South Loop Spy Jody)

When The Reed is fully grown, 216 condominiums will bloom atop 224 apartments and a root ball of a podium featuring amenity space; retail space; and sacred, holy parking spaces.

Like several other recent buildings, The Reed will complete a section of the Chicago RIverwalk by running the promenade underneath one of its flanks. At first blush, it may seem unnecessarily aggressive and an infringement on what is supposed to be public space, but there are benefits.

  • It provides an opportunity for retail space to be located adjacent to the riverwalk.
  • It provides pedestrians cover from sun on sunny days, and rain on rainy days.
  • It provides a location for outdoor seating to accompany any eatery that may open in the riverwalk-adjacent space.
  • It helps with placemaking and wayfinding in a city where most of the new skyscrapers all look similar. “How far do we have to go? I dunno, did we walk under The Reed yet?”

Important for the residents is that shoving the building as close to the river as possible helps protect the building’s views. Sure, 99 and 44/100% of the views in Chicago aren’t protected, but that doesn’t mean a developer can’t try.

Interestingly, those views come at what feels like a somewhat reasonable rate. If you subscribe to real estate newsletters, read real estate posts on the socials, or thumb through Crain’s Chicago Business, the weapons-grade hyperbole may have given you the impression that the downtown Chicago residential market is foaming at the mouth worse than Leroy Brown’s junkyard dog. But condos starting at $400,000ish in this location doesn’t seem all that bad to us. And for the work-from-home set, this could be an ideal alternative to suburban living.

Location: 234 West Polk Street, South Loop

Author: Editor

Editor founded the Chicago Architecture Blog in 2003, after a long career in journalism. He can be reached at

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