As development returns to American cities, we are seeing more and more projects–both existing and new construction–that involve vertical subdivisions.  Just as an ordinary two-dimensional subdivision carves up one parcel into multiple lots, a vertical subdivision carves up one parcel into multiple parcels, but the parcels are stacked on top of one another, rather than resting side by side.

A condominium is the most common type of vertical subdivision, but vertical subdivisions can also be accomplished through other platting procedures.  In Minnesota, we have worked with developers who have created vertical subdivisions using the normal two-dimensional subdivision process, as well as ones who have created vertical subdivisions with Registered Land Surveys, a special type of subdivision that may only be used with registered property.

Vertical subdivisions are used primarily to separate uses–for instance, several floors of residential property might be located above one or two floors of retail or office space, each in a legally-separate parcel of real estate.   We see this type of structure used most often in dense, urban environments, where it is common to see different uses in one structure.  But, increasingly, we are seeing this structure used in suburban environments, where density is increasing or where zoning or financing limitations make such a structure desirable.  We will be examing the challenges, opportunities and current issues involved in vertical subdivision in future posts.