Not in the zone: 40% of Manhattan buildings violate today’s building rules

Some are too tall, some have too many units or too much commercial space

TRD New York /
May.May 20, 2016 12:16 PM

New York’s zoning code has changed quite a bit in the 100 years since it was first adopted, so much so that as many as 40 percent of Manhattan buildings would not be allowed to be built today in their current form.

Some buildings, including many in Washington Heights, cover too large a part of their lot; some, centered in Chinatown, have too much commercial space; others simply rise too high, such as many properties on the Upper East Side.

Of Manhattan’s 43,000 buildings, about 17,000 fail to conform to today’s zoning rules for one reason or another, the New York Times reported, citing data from investment and brokerage firm Quantierra.

Others, such as the 17-story 720 Park Avenue, have too few units for their size by modern standards. The building encompasses about 203,000 square feet of space, but has just 29 units, including a 14-room, 7,000-square-foot duplex currently listing for $22.5 million.

In contrast, the structures in neighborhoods such as Chelsea, Midtown and East Harlem are largely in keeping with current rules.

Back in March, the City Council approved Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability program, the most recent change the city’s code, which would raise some building height limits and relax parking requirements for certain projects. [NYT]Ariel Stulberg


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