Saturday, September 6, 2008

Riis Houses

I spent a morning (September 4, 2008) at Riis Houses on the Lower East Side riding elevators, walking the halls, and talking to residents and staff. I was able to gain entry to almost all the buildings in the development so that gave me a pretty good sense of the conditions throughout.

Riis Houses was dedicated in 1947 and tenanted by 1949. It is a large housing project containing 1190 units in one section and 577 in the other. There are 6, 13, and 14 story buildings. This is a traditional NYCHA superblock covering only about 20% of the land area. The black and white picture on the left shows the project in the 1950s.

Summary of Visit: I found Riis Houses to be a well managed development.

Pros: Of the approximate 18 elevators I rode or tested, only 1 was not functioning on the day of my visit. All of the elevators are modern, relatively clean and well maintained. Almost all hallways were clean, the grounds were well maintained (with little trash, trimmed lawns, modern play equipment, nice benches, etc.). Plenty of staff were out keeping up the grounds and buildings (kudos to the hard-working staff).

Cons: Some tagging and graffitti on walls inside the buildings. Some stairwells could use repainting. Some of the elevators smelled (even after cleaning). Some of the lobbies could use new glazed brick. One elevator in a six-story building was out of service.

Highlights of trip
(Building Numbers provided without full address for the sake of brevity)

Building 170, good elevator, lobby clean, hallways clean, some tagging in stairwell
Building 178: fast elevator, clean hallways, lobby clean
Building 1115: some trash outside, clean lobby, clean working elevators
Building 466: dirty elevator, some tagging although it was fast, hallways clean
Building 819: clean lobby and elevator, only 30 seconds to 13th floor
Building 765: clean lobby, cracked plastic panel, good elevators although loud, clean hallways
Building 90: clean lobby, elevator clean but smelly, clean hallways
Building 807: clean lobbies, stairwells clean, elevator stuck on one side of building
Building 903: elevator working, clean lobby