R2 Zoning is a low density residential zoning district in NYC. You can only build single family detached homes in R2 zoning districts. R2 also has subdistricts R2A and R2X which are similar in nature but vary on certain specific regulations.
The R2 zoning district, which permits the construction of detached single family homes, can be found in The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
This post will focus on R2 Zoning and not the R2A or R2X subdistricts. You may however want to see the links below to learn more about these subdistricts.
We have another post were you can learn the definition of a detached building.
R2 Zoning NYC
Below are the different R2 districts in NYC.
R2 Zoning Districts
Sub districts – R2 Contextual Districts
NYC R2 Zoning Regulations
What is R2 Zoning?
In NYC R2 is a low density zoning district in NYC where one can build single family detached residences. A detached house is one that has yards on all sides of the house and is not attached to the neighbor’s house. Therefore row houses, attached houses, two family houses, and multi family buildings are prohibited in R2 districts. You can find R2 zoning in areas with primarily single family homes such as Riverdale, Bronx, or parts of Queens, and Staten Island. These are examples of lower density residential areas with only single family homes.
R2 Zoning Community Facility
R2 Zoning is a residential zoning district, but Community Facility Zoning uses are allowed in R2 zones. In the instance of a community facility, the zoning calculations may be different as community facilities can have alternate requirements. For example the FAR for a community facility will typically be different than the residential FAR.
NYC R2 Zoning Specifications
There are 3 types of R2 Zoning districts: R2, R2A, and R2X. The specifications below are for regular R2 zoning.
Minimum Lot Size: Lot Area & Lot Width
You can only build single family detached homes in R2 zoning. A Detached house has yards on all sides and does not touch any other buildings or houses.
Minimum Lot width =40 Feet
Minimum Lot Area = 3,800 Sq Ft
R2 Floor Area Ratio (F.A.R.):
Floor Area Ratio determines the floor area that can be built on the property.
FAR = .5
Density Factor or Dwelling Unit Factor (DU) for R2
R2 Building Heights:
Sky Exposure Plane starting at 25 Feet. This means there is not a specific maximum height but an imaginary plane that dictates the height requirements.
Yard Requirements for R2
Front Yard = 15 Feet minimum
Rear Yard = 30 Feet
Side Yards = 13 Feet of side yards combined with the smaller of the two yards being 5 feet minimum. That is to say the minimum side yard dimension is 5 but they must add up to 13.
1 Parking Space is required per house on the site open or enclosed.
R2 Zoning Example, Building a New Home
Here is a basic zoning analysis for a R2 single family home. We will be using basic R2 regulations for this example. Zoning will determine the maximum size, square footage, location of house on the property, yard requirements, and many other variables.
How big of a house can I build in R2 Zoning?
Lets assume we are dealing with a property that is 40 feet wide and 100 feet deep and is on an interior lot. An interior lot is located within a block with neighboring properties on 3 sides (through lots and corner lots for have different rules). We have another blog post if you want to learn more about the difference between interior, through, and corner lots.
Floor Area Ratio (FAR) in R2 Zoning
The floor area ratio of a property is a zoning term that governs how many square feet you can build on a given property. The larger the property the more square footage you can get and in turn the smaller the property the less square footage you can build. You multiply the property square footage by the floor area ratio to get the maximum square footage for your house.
The Floor area ratio in an R2 Zoning district is .5
If the lot square footage is 40 x 100 = 4,000 square feet
Lot Square Footage X Floor Area Ratio = Maximum square footage of house
4,000 square feet X .5 = 2,000 square feet (Maximum House size)
R2 Zoning Conclusion
In this example, we can build a house that is 2,000 square feet or less (2,000 is the maximum house size). There are certain zoning deductions you can get that change from zone to zone, for example a cellar does not count for FAR but a basement does. We will not go into that level of detail here but sometimes you can discount certain parts of the house like a boiler room. If you have a cellar it does not count for the zoning square footage but a basement would. Please be aware there is a difference between cellar and basement. A basement does count for zoning square footage.
So we now know we can build a 2,000 square foot house on a 4,000 square foot R2 lot.
In the next diagram, you can see the buildable area and the house footprint is a little smaller. Although the house can be located anywhere in the buildable area, I located it at the front yard 15 foot line. I left a large rear yard and we made one of the side yards a little bigger by aligning the side of the house with the 8 foot side yard because I wanted a little extra on the other side yard.
As an architect, I study zoning very closely. NYC Zoning is complicated and quite involved. In this article, we reviewed some of the basic Zoning Codes with regards to residential zoning district R2. This analysis does not assume to cover every possible issue and condition, but provide a general overview. This post does not substitute the NYC Zoning Resolution. You can learn more from the Department of City Planning R2 Regulations.
Thank You for reading our post on R2 Zoning in NYC.
I hope this was helpful. You can leave questions or comments below. If you want to discuss a specific project you can contact us directly.
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.