A Foreigner's Guide to New York City Land Use Law


PUBLISHED ON: January 22, 2009

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Foreign parties seeking to purchase real estate in New York City are well advised to consult with legal counsel before deciding to go forward with a purchase. Real estate brokers know the economics of the market, but few of them know the subtleties of the zoning that can be crucial to whether or not a property can be used as planned or developed with a new building of a desired size. Special land use counsel can advise other law firms or their clients regarding the land use controls applicable to a particular site.

New York has some of the most comprehensive land use controls in the United States. Its Zoning Resolution is almost 900 pages long, and it has a landmarks preservation law that gives great power to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has jurisdiction over hundreds of individual landmarks and thousands of buildings in 91 historic districts. Many other laws also affect the use of land and buildings in the City.