NYC Sliver Law(Last Updated On: September 11, 2018)
The “Sliver Law” is a reference to a zoning code in New York City that aims to prevent very tall narrow buildings in certain zoning districts. It applies height restrictions to buildings on certain properties under 45 feet wide.
Here is an example of a development that was prevented by the “sliver law”. We looked into possibly developing a property for a client on an R10 lot in Manhattan. As per R10 rules we could enlarge the building based on its existing size and allowable floor area, or demolish and build new, but the “sliver law” prevented this from being possible. See bellow a breakdown of the basic rules in the sliver law. Here is what we encountered:
The property was under 45 feet wide so therefor fell under the jurisdiction of the sliver law. We determined that the street width was 70 feet that meant it is a “narrow street.” We had 1 building on either side of us. A shorter one and a taller one. Unfortunately because we only had 1 taller building on a narrow street we did not have the option to enlarge the building as per the sliver law restrictions. The building height cannot exceed 70 feet in this case. And the existing building was already that tall.
What Is The Sliver Law
The following is a paraphrase of the code please see the zoning text for exact language used.
Zoning Section 23-692 Height limitations for narrow buildings or enlargements
The “Sliver Law” is an unofficial name to the New York City Zoning Code sections 23-692 & 33-492 here is the basic idea of what the code requires.
Things you need to know:
This section is only applicable to certain zoning districts see list bellow. The code only applies to properties that are less than 45 feet wide where you wish to enlarge the property or build a new development.
Street width can be determined by a land surveyor.
A “wide street” is 75 feet or more.
A “narrow street” is under 75 feet.
“Abuts” means the building is touching another on the property line.
Sliver Law Restrictions
- For interior lots or through lots. The building is restricted to a height of 100 feet or the width of the street whichever is less.
- On Corner lots at 2 narrow streets the height is restricted to the width of the narrowest of the streets at the corner.
- On corner lots with at least 1 wide street the building is restricted to 100 feet or the widest street whichever is less.
Sliver Law Height Exceptions:
The above mentioned restrictions can be exceeded in the following cases:
- On a Wide Street (75 or more)
- If the building “abuts” another building that is taller than the height restriction above than your building can be built up to the same height as the abutting building. If there are 2 buildings (one on either side) taller than the height restriction stated above than the new building can be as tall as the tallest of the 2.
- On a Narrow Street (less than 75 feet)
- If you abut 2 building,s both over the height restriction stated above, than you can build as tall as the shorter of the 2 buildings
Zoning Districts for Sliver Law:
These rules apply to the following zoning districts
Certain areas are exempt from the sliver law and it does not apply in all instances. For example in the Special Purpose District – Special Lower Manhattan Zoning District (LM District) the sliver law does not apply at all.
Some special zoning districts have modifications to the sliver law or additional requirements to supplement it. An example being the TMU Special Tribeca Mixed Use District modifies the sliver Law.
In cases of residential use in a commercial district Sliver Law May apply to the following commercial districts as well:
Thank You for reading our blog post on the NYC Sliver Law and Sliver Building restrictions.
If you are interested in speaking with an architect about your project please Contact Fontan Architecture. If you are interested in learning more about some of our services check out the following pages on our Zoning Analysis Services or our Building Design Architectural Services.
Author Jorge Fontan AIA
This post was written by Jorge Fontan, a Registered Architect and owner of Fontan Architecture.