What are JLWQA Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists

by | Last updated Aug 17, 2023 | Lofts, New York City, NYC Zoning

What is JLWQA?

JLWQA are Joint Live-Work Quarters for Artists, a building use designation for artist Live-Work space established by Use Group 17D of the New York City Zoning Resolution. JLWQA was created to allow artists lofts in converted manufacturing buildings in certain areas of NYC. 

There are NYC buildings containing lofts designated as Joint Live-Work Quarters for Artists. These buildings were initially commercial or manufacturing facilities that were illegally rented to and used by artists as their homes and art studio space. New York City made laws to protect these individuals in the 1980s and began legalizing these spaces requiring the building owners to bring the building up to code for Dwellings. The City created new Zoning Districts to allow this type of use (as these were often in Manufacturing Zoning Districts).

Since the SoHo NoHo Rezoning Plan was approved, many of these apartments can have their designation changed under new regulations. 

M1-5A and M1-5B Zoning Districts required JLWQA for residential occupancy.

If you want to convert a JLWQA loft and remove the artist restriction on its occupancy, I have another post you can read with more information. Converting JLWQA Artis Lofts to Residential in SoHo and NoHo.




How to Qualify for Joint Live-Work Quarters for Artists

These types of Loft designation was created for artists. To qualify, an artist should be certified by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

The Zoning code also says: “any person who is entitled to occupancy by any other provision of law”. This is not very specific. If you fall under this category, I suggest consulting with a Housing Attorney.


Codes for JLWQA Lofts

The New York City Multiple Dwelling Law has specific JLWQA codes and requirements sections. These have more leeway on certain code issues that would not apply to a standard apartment.

Below are a few examples of Codes from the Multiple Dwelling Law that apply to JLWQA Lofts.

Fire Separation

A fire-rated wall separation must separate all units. No fire separation is required between a single unit’s living and work space.

Light and Air Requirements

Windows cannot be within five feet of a rear lot line. There are many other issues with Windows. This five-foot rule is one critical one that I included. I am not listing every single code.

Rooms shall have a window area of at least 10% if the room is less than 500 square feet. It can decrease by 1% for every 100 square feet over 500 sf to a minimum of 5%. At least half of the required window surface area must be operable.

Kitchens in JLWQA

Kitchens over 80 square feet require windows. An open kitchen will be considered part of the space it adjoins if at least 40% open. Kitchens under 80 square feet can have a window or mechanical exhaust.

Doors to Corridor

Doors to public halls must be fireproof doors and have self-closing hardware.

A maximum of 2 apartments can open to a standard stair without an “intervening enclosed hallway.” These hallways are fire rated.


NYC Lofts and JLWQA

Not all NYC Lofts are JLWQA, but all Joint Live-Work Quarters for Artists are Lofts. The easiest way to determine this is to check the building’s Certificate of Occupancy. If you want more background on New York City lofts, we wrote another post on Loft Apartments in NYC

Zoning Use Group for JLWQA

Joint Live-Work Quarters for Artists fall under Zoning Use Group 17D. If a Certificate Of Occupancy Lists Use Group 17D, that means it is a JLWQA Loft.

Below is a Certificate of Occupancy for a Loft building in SoHo.

JLWQA Loft Certificate of Occupancy

JLWQA Loft Certificate of Occupancy


Joint Live Work Quarters for Artists

Not all lofts are artist lofts. If you want to purchase a loft in NYC, you should check these matters and understand the implications.


Thank you for reading our blog post on JLWQA Lofts.

I hope this was helpful. If you want to speak with an architect, contact us at Fontan Architecture directly.


Contact Fontan Architecture

Jorge Fontan

Jorge Fontan

This post was written by Jorge Fontan AIA a Registered Architect and owner of New York City architecture firm Fontan Architecture. Jorge Fontan has earned 3 degrees in the study of architecture including two degrees from the City University of New York and a Masters Degree in Advanced Architectural Design from Columbia University. Jorge has a background in construction and has been practicing architecture for 20 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.