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South Loop mega-development to split into two smaller projects

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The two developers of the Riverline project will each take a portion of the massive waterfront site.

Riverline’s first high-rise tower, Acora, will open later this year (left).

In an somewhat unusual move, the co-developers behind Chicago’s multi-phase Riverline project are breaking up the 14-acre South Loop site into two smaller projects. According to a recent Chicago Tribune report, the move will see Australia’s Lendlease control an 7-acre plot north of the existing River City condo complex while Chicago-based CMK takes over the site’s 8-acre southern portion.

The break-up appears to be an amicable agreement. Lendlease executive Tom Weeks tells the Tribune that the split will allow for both companies to move forward on “their own terms and on their own time.” The developers will still stick to the existing Riverline masterplan penned by architectural firm Perkins+Will.

Bordered by Harrison, Roosevelt, Wells, and the South Branch of the Chicago River, the massive Riverline development broke ground in 2016. Its first building—a 29-story, 450-unit rental tower known as Ancora—topped out over the winter and is on track to open this summer.

The combined $2 billion plan calls for the eventual construction of more than 3,700 residences spread across eight waterfront towers and townhouse blocks. Riverline will also feature new commercial retail space, a public riverwalk, and water taxi stop.

Perkins + Will

While CMK could break ground on the a second 19-story apartment high-rise as early as next year, the timing on subsequent phases will depend on residential demand. Both developers will gauge the market to determine future unit mix with regards to rental apartments versus for-sale condominiums.

The east bank of the Chicago River’s South Branch on the cusp of a major transformation. Once solely reserved for heavy industry, the waterway has cleaned up its act and has emerged as new frontier for both recreation and development.

Just south of the newly subdivided Riverline project, Related Midwest is showing early signs of progress on its plan to redevelop an even larger 62-acre riverfront parcel into The 78—a mixed-use campus anchored by $1.2 billion innovation center.

In addition to planned water taxi stops, both mega-developments are poised to take advantage of the upcoming Wells-Wentworth Connector. The long-discussed CDOT roadway project will extend Wells Street from its current dead-end at Roosevelt Road south into the heart of Chicago’s Chinatown neighborhood.

The Riverline masterplan hugs the Chicago River from Harrison to Roosevelt. The curvaceous River City development (pictured center) serves as a dividing line between the newly created north and south sub-parcels.