A non-complying building is any building that doesn’t comply with the bulk regulations of a particular zoning district. These bulk regulations include the height, floor area, and lot size, among others. Nearly 40% of buildings in Manhattan are out of compliance with current zoning regulations. (New York Times, 2016) Most of these buildings, in Manhattan and in other burrows, are older structures that have been around since before the current zoning resolution, which was enacted in 1961.
There is no doubt that the history and beauty of a lot of the older buildings in New York City add character and flavor to the neighborhoods that have evolved around them. Consequently, there’s a significant amount of leniency given to the development and renovation of non-complying buildings. Developers are allowed to enlarge or convert their non-complying building, as long as it doesn’t create a new non-compliance. (Zoning Resolution, Article V, Chapter 4)
This makes it very appealing for developers to convert older factories and hospitals into lofts and apartments. By converting these spaces, they can sometimes nearly double the number of units in a given building. These converted, non-complying buildings also don’t have to include as many parking spaces, another developmental perk. (metropolisny.com, 2017)
Non-complying buildings may also be non-conforming, in which case renovation and enlargement will be more difficult due to zoning regulations that dictate whether the area can be used for residential, commercial or manufacturing purposes.