CHICAGO (CBS)–Riverside office and residential projects are taking take root beyond the downtown Chicago core, and spilling onto the Chicago riverfront.

Developers are asking water taxis to expand service to allow better access to the newly-developed waterfront. Upcoming developments like the north side Lincoln Yards project and the 62-acre South Loop development known as “The 78” are spurring historic levels of activity near the river.

“They all need a way to connect to downtown and basically this is the best way to do it,” said Craig Wenokur of Wendella Boats, the company that operates Chicago’s water taxi system.

A Wendella Chicago Water Taxi on the Chicago River.

Commercial expansion comes as pleasure crafters increase their use of the river too.

Mixed in among the day trippers on Wendella’s Chicago Water Taxi Monday afternoon was Arlene Hogan of Naperville.

She likes to hop on a water taxi to Michigan Avenue. She often spends part of her day wandering Michigan Avenue before boarding the taxi again and heading back to her office in the West Loop.

“If you time it right you can do a round-trip back in 45 minutes and still have time to catch your lunch if you want,” she said.

Chicago Water Taxi debuted in 2007. The company’s four boats service seven stops along the rejuvenated Chicago river.

About 400,000 people boarded Wendella’s boat taxis last year, the company says.

“The growth in the water taxi has just been phenomenal,” Wenokur said. “Chicago is growing–there’s a lot of developable space right near downtown.”