Commercial District Tinted Concrete Sidewalk Standards
In 2010, in response to numerous requests for widely-varying distinctive sidewalk paving on commercial streets, and concerns raised about a mismatched patchwork appearance of sidewalks in the City, DOT promulgated a City rule (Chapter 2 § 2-09(f)(4) of the Highway Rules). The rule specifies a standard for pigmenting and scoring to encourage an attractive, uniform appearance on sidewalks and curbs in the city's busiest and most visible areas. Read the Street Design Manual for more information about the standard
Tinted sidewalk rules apply in certain commercial districts
The standard holds for sidewalks in front of all lots in commercial zoning districts C4-4 through C4-7, C5 and C6. This includes special purpose districts where such zoning is the underlying control, such as the Special Midtown District. You can search the NYC zoning maps by address, intersection or Tax Block & Lot
The tinted concrete standard should be used whenever 50% or more of the total square footage of sidewalk fronting any lot in the prescribed commercial districts is being installed or replaced, including any pedestrian ramps. Once more than 50% of the sidewalk fronting a lot in the prescribed commercial district has been upgraded to the standard, only the standard may be used. If less than 50% of the sidewalk is being replaced or installed, such as in the case of single flag replacements, either the standard OR the old standard may be used. However, utilities and city agencies replacing sidewalk flags in the prescribed commercial districts should always use the standard.
Existing sidewalks in these commercial districts do not need to be replaced to conform to the standard. Existing sidewalks may remain as they are until replacement of more than 50% of the sidewalk fronting a lot is required for some other reason, at which point they will be expected to be replaced using the standard.
The standard does not apply to landmarked historic districts. Landmarked historic districts have their own standards for sidewalks and curbs.
Sidewalks will be replaced over time
New York City's commercial sidewalks are, today, a checkered condition of materials, pigments and scoring patterns. While the lifespan of these sidewalks is typically 30 years before requiring replacement, many sidewalks are replaced more frequently than that as property ownership changes hands. As more and more sidewalks are replaced or installed using the standard, a uniform appearance will gradually be achieved.
Public Design Commission (PDC) approval
Prior PDC approval is not required if the standard is being used in the prescribed commercial districts (C4-4 - C4-7, C5 and C6). Outside of those districts it is considered distinctive and requires a Distinctive Sidewalk Improvement Maintenance Agreement and PDC approval.
The addition of silicarb to the concrete to provide a sparkle effect is an approved standard variation, which may be used in sidewalks applying the standard and as set forth in Section 4.13.4(I)-3 of the DOT Standard Specifications.
Properties within the prescribed commercial districts may still apply for distinctive sidewalks if they so choose. However, this is discouraged by DOT and PDC.
Because of variations in material availability, labor prices, site conditions, and the optional use of silicarb, it is impossible to say what any sidewalk installation may cost. DOT estimates that the cost for sidewalks using the new sidewalk specification standard may be $2-3 per square foot greater than that of unpigmented, hand-trowelled concrete.
DOT Highway Inspection and Quality Assurance inspectors will inspect sidewalk replacements and installations and may issue violations for any sidewalk replacements or installations that do not comply with the rule and standard.