Popular perception of New York paints the city as a land of towering skyscrapers and sleek, shiny offices, but a quick walk through a neighborhood like Chelsea quickly dispels that notion. Most of the buildings there are stout, short, even tiny compared to the skyscrapers of the Financial District. At the time many of them were built, New York City’s zoning code was far more The comparatively tiny buildings are that size in part due to New York City’s Zoning Resolution, which dictates the square footage of a building.
However, not all buildings in New York use the total square footage allotted to them by the Zoning Resolution for a variety of reasons. Under the Zoning Resolution, these buildings have what’s called “unused development rights,” which they can transfer to other, nearby buildings under special circumstances.