Wide Street / Narrow Street NYC Zoning

by | Last updated Sep 3, 2019 | Published on Oct 9, 2018 | NYC Zoning

NYC Zoning uses the tern “Wide Street” and “Narrow Street” these are precise terms that affect what zoning regulations are applicable on your property. A Wide Street is a street that is greater than or equal to  75 feet wide. A Narrow Street is a street less than 75 feet wide.


NYC Street Width

NYC streets all have a term called “legal width”. This is important to identify for zoning purposes as regulations change based on street width. For the New York City Zoning Resolution definition of street you can look up Article 1 Chapter 2 (AKA chapter 12) of the Zoning Resolution.

Essentially a street is indicated on the City Map and is defined by the “Way” or “Public Way.” Street Width includes public sidewalks.

Who Identifies Street Width?

Typically you will see the Street Width indicated on a Land Survey performed by a Licensed Land Surveyor. Do not take a tape measure and try to measure the street. There is an exact legal width for your street.


What Is a Wide Street?

In NYC a Wide street is any street equal to or greater than 75 feet in width.

What Is a Narrow Street?

In NYC a Narrow street is any street less than 75 feet in width.


How Does Street Width Affect NYC Zoning Regulations?

There are many ways that street width can affect zoning. Bellow we will list a few examples.

  • Floor Area Ratio Based on Street Width 
  • Setbacks Vary Based On Street Width
  • Sky Exposure Plan Varies Based on Street width


Floor Area Ratio Based on Street Width 

In certain zoning districts your Floor Area Ratio may change based on Street Width. The Floor Area Ratio is a factor that determines how many square feet can be developed on a certain property. We have a another post explain how Floor Area Ratio works to determine your buildable area.

R6 street width Zoning FAR Example:

In R6 Zoning for Quality Housing Zoning Developments the Floor Area Ratio changes based on the street width.

The FAR on a Narrow Street would be 2.2

The FAR within 100 feet of a Wide Street in the Manhattan Core is 2.43

The FAR on a Wide street outside the Manhattan Core would be 3.00 within 100 feet of the wide street.


Setbacks Determined By Street Width

Setback regulations vary based on Street Width. For example the Quality Housing Program sets a 10 foot setback for buildings on a Wide Street and a 15 foot setback for buildings on a Narrow Street.

R8 Zoning Setback Example:

In an R8 Zoning District when developing a building based on The Quality Housing Program the setbacks would differ dependent on the street width.

On a narrow street in R8 you would need a 15 foot setback at a height no lower than 60 and no higher than 80 feet.

On a wide street in R8 you would need a 10 foot setback at a height no lower than 60 and no higher than 85 feet.


Sky Exposure Plane Slope Changes based on Street Width

A sky exposure plan slope can change based on street width. The sky exposure plane is an imaginary sloping plane that determines the exterior envelope of a building.

C1-9 Zoning Setback Example:

In a C1-9 Zoning Lot the sky Exposure plane slope would change based on the street width.

The basic sky exposure plan on a Narrow Street would be 2.7 to 1.

The basic sky exposure plan on a Wide street would be 5.6 to 1.


Street width and NYC Zoning

There are many way street width can affect your zoning requirements. These were just a few examples.


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Please feel free to post questions or comments below. If you are interested in discussing a specific project you are planning please Contact Us directly to speak with an architect. I hope this article was helpful and we wish you good luck with your upcoming projects.


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.

  • lee s odell says:

    Hey Jorge , when calculating width for the purpose of finding out if you qualify as a wide street, do you take the width of the sidewalks to get your total calculation?

  • Andrew Sullivan says:

    Would you be able to build at the wide street FAR on a lot that is at the corner of a narrow and a wide street?

  • Sandy Russo says:

    I am a member of Community Board 2 in Manhattan. A parking issue has come up that references the street width. Is there a way to research the width of any particular street in Manhattan?
    Does the term” width” include just the roadway or does it include both sidewalks?

  • David Bergman says:

    Hey Jorge, I love your website, it’s been extremely educational for me. You’re doing a great service to the New York Real Estate Industry. As a Commercial RE Broker, I find myself on your site quite frequently, researching what you have to say regarding many complicated topics. Keep up the great work!

    Small typo in your above post. You have two explanations for “What is a Wide Street”. You may have meant to put “What is a Narrow Street” on the second option.
    David Bergman , EMH Commercial Realty

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