The transformation of Southbank is well under way with the first phase of residences, landscaping of trees, shrubs and grasses, and a two-acre park that includes a riverfront amphitheater lined with reclaimed lannon stone blocks that once formed the foundation of the train terminal – all intended to welcome residents and their neighbors beyond. Southbank Park also is now home to birdhouses designed by students at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The city’s Riverwalk has been extended through Southbank and will reach still further in years to come. More development is on the way: The Reed is expected to be completed in 2023, with two more buildings to follow; the riverbank will be home to a new water taxi stop adapted from an existing bridge abutment; and retail offerings are expected to spring up in buildings along Wells Street, forging even stronger connections between Southbank and its surrounding community. “Our vision from the original master plan was to create a true neighborhood, activating access to the river, and providing shared space for the greater community,” says Bryan Schabel, Design Principal.
The opening of The Cooper, with its white, undulating facade referencing the river’s flow, brought a 29-story, 452-unit rental high-rise, combined with 26 rental townhomes that wrap the base of the tower to face Southbank Park. Unobstructed views north and south, plus the new park and reclaimed riverbank, are among the amenities at residents’ doorsteps. The Cooper itself is rich with amenities, designed to enhance the feeling of community and range from pools and yoga classes to a music listening room and outdoor movie-screening area. “The Cooper has been a success from the start,” says Kozloski.