NYC Sliver Law

by | Last updated Jun 26, 2020 | Published on Feb 1, 2017 | NYC Zoning, Property Development

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.

Sliver Building New York

In New York a Sliver Building is any tall building that is less than 45 feet wide and subject to the sliver law regulations. Some Special Purpose Zoning Districts allow for Sliver Buildings.

 

Sliver Law NYC

 

 

What Is The Sliver Law?

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.

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:

You can exceed the above mentioned restrictions 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 buildings 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 may not apply.

Some special zoning districts have modifications to the sliver law or additional requirements to supplement it. For example the TMU Special Tribeca Mixed Use District has a modification to the sliver Law.

 

Residential:

Commercial:

In cases of residential use in a commercial district Sliver Law May apply to the following commercial districts as well:

 

For Mixed Use Buildings with Residential in the following districts: C4-2F, C4-4, C4-5, C4-6, C4-7, C5 or C6 Sliver Law will apply to Quality Housing Buildings.

 


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 us directly.

 

Contact Fontan Architecture

 

Jorge Fontan
Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.

  • Sam P says:

    Hi,
    What about R9X/C1X zone, or C1-5/R8B? Are they under sliver law?

  • Matthew Citrin says:

    Hi,
    If you have a 25′ wide block through lot, with both neighboring buildings taller than 700′ in building height, in a c6-6.5, c5-3, MiD zoning, does sliver law apply, or could I potentially build a 700 ft high building?
    All the best.

  • avi baranes says:

    what if my building is within a 100 feet from the corner lot 27 by 100 and building is 25 feet within the corner of awide street 100 feet wide
    (there is a 4 story building on corner with lot size of 25 by 75 )
    can i build 100 feet high (the narrow street is only 45 feet)

  • Jesse says:

    Hello, What if your plot is 25′, midblock and the two building beside are 6 stories in an R10 or R9 and the street is larger than 100′? Does the rule still apply?

  • Jerry L. says:

    Is (address removed) Reade Street zoned C6-3a or R9a with 25×76 be exempted from Silver Law?

    • jorgefontan says:

      Jerry,
      The simple answer is yes it applies but with modifications. You are in a special zoning district Special Tribeca Mixed Use District TMU and that district has modifications to the sliver law as well as additional requirements for Height and setback. I would need to know the heights of the neighboring buildings and do a zoning analysis to figure this out.

  • millard thomas says:

    In NYC, in reference to R6 multi family townhouse and brownstones. Is there a specific amount of feet from the curb that the building has to be in order to build up?

  • jorgefontan says:

    It depends it may. there are Residential “Paired Zones” for certain Manufacturing districts. If you have a paired zone subject to sliver law then yes it might apply.

  • Ed says:

    Thank you for the prompt reply. The buildings on either side are not taller. So, if the FAR is 10, is one still able to build 25000sf? Or if the street is about 40′ (from curb to curb), then must the developer build no more than 40′ tall or appx 10k sf?

    • jorgefontan says:

      Yes that is correct. The floor area ratio has no affect on the Sliver law restrictions. You will still be limited to a 40 foot height.

  • Ed Nunez says:

    So if a property is 25×100, has air rights from adjacent building, and is zoned C6-4, the sliver law does not apply and you are therefore able to build up to 50k sf or how ever much additional air right you accumulate? Or do the restrictions still apply?

    • jorgefontan says:

      Ed,
      From what you described I would say yes my opinion is the restrictions still apply.
      Are the buildings on either side taller?
      If either of them are taller do you know if you are on a wide or narrow street. You may be able to match the height of one of your neighbors.

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