R6 Zoning NYC Residential Development

by | Last updated May 31, 2020 | NYC Zoning

R6 Zoning in NYC is a residential zoning district with small multifamily apartment buildings and single or two family homes. R6 is medium density non contextual zoning.  In R6 you have a choice of Height Factor Zoning or Quality Housing Program. It is the only residential zoning district in every New York City Borough: Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

This post is going to be discussing the basics of R6 Zoning in New York City. As Architects in NYC, we get a large number of inquires at our office about R6 Zoning, lets look at some of the issues concerning properties zoned R6.


R6 Zoning Districts

Basic R6 District

  • R6
    • Option 1: R6 Quality Housing Program
    • Option 2: R6 Height Factor

R6 Contextual Districts

Commercial Zoning With Residential Equivalent R6 Zoning

Most Commercial Zoning districts allow for residential use. Below are Commercial zones with R6 Residential Equivalents.


R6A & R6B Contextual Districts:

R6A and R6B are contextual zoning districts and would have some different regulations than basic R6 Zoning. In this article, we are only going to be addressing basic R6 zoning, not the subdistricts.


R6 Zoning NYC Residential District

New York City is has different zoning districts. The purpose of these districts is to restrict what people build based on the location. A zoning district that begins with ‘R’ is a residential district. They go from R1 through R10. The higher the number the larger the building you can build. R6 is most commonly in Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. There are a few areas in Manhattan and Staten Island that are zoned R6.


What is R6 Zoning?

R6 Zoning is a medium density residential zoning district. It has multifamily buildings that can range from walk up townhouses to taller apartment buildings. In R6 zones you have two options for zoning rules. You can use Height Factor Zoning or Quality Housing Program.


R6 Quality Housing Program

The Quality Housing Program is most likely the option one would go with in R6 zones and in fact is required in R6A and R6B zones. The quality housing program promotes shorter wider buildings. This is not to be confused with the Inclusionary Housing Program for affordable housing. The quality housing program typically will result in a larger building of a higher quality. There are more zoning floor area deductions in quality housing that would give you a boost to your building size.


R6 Zoning Community Facility

R6 Zoning is a residential zone but Community Facility uses are also allowed in R6. In the instance of a community facility the zoning calculations would be different. One can also build a mixed use building with both community facility and residential use.


R6 Zoning Commercial Overlay

Sometimes residential districts have commercial overlays. this means the zone is primarily residential but commercial use is allowed instead or as a mixed use building. Here is a link to an article we wrote on Commercial Overlays.


R6 Inclusionary Housing Program

Always check if your property is subject to requirements of the Inclusionary Housing Zoning. These are districts that have either optional and sometimes mandatory requirements for low income housing. In these areas you provide a percentage of your floor area for affordable units. There may be zoning penalties if you choose not to provide it, and zoning bonuses if you do.


R6 Zoning Regulations For Quality Housing Program

Lot Size:

Minimum Lot width =18 Feet

Minimum Lot Area = 1,700 Sq Ft

For Single or Two Family Detached homes:

Minimum Lot width =40 Feet

Minimum Lot Area = 3,800 Sq Ft

Lot Coverage:

Corner Lot = 100%

Interior or Through Lot = 60%

An Interior or Through Lot within 100 feet of a wide street (Inside Manhattan Core) = 60%

Interior or Through Lot within 100 feet of a wide street (Outside Manhattan Core) = 65%

Wide street is over 75 feet

Narrow Street is under 75 feet

Floor Area Ratio (FAR):

Manhattan Core Wide Street: = 2.43 (within 100 feet of wide street)

Manhattan Core Narrow Street: = 2.2

Everywhere Else:

Narrow street  = 2.2

Wide street = 3.0 (within 100 feet of wide street)

Density Factor


Building Base Height: This indicates a setback is required at these heights

Manhattan Core Wide street: = 40 Minimum / 55 Maximum

Everywhere Else:

Wide street  = 40 Minimum / 65 Maximum

Narrow street = 30 Minimum / 45 Maximum

Overall Building Height: This is the actual building height

Manhattan Core Wide street: = 65 feet

Everywhere Else:

Narrow street  = 55 feet

Wide street = 70 feet


30 foot minimum rear yard required


50% of dwelling units

Parking Is waived in the Manhattan Core. There are also reductions and waivers for small lots and lots with few parking requirements.


R6 Zoning Example Quality Housing Program Residential Use

R6 Zoning Narrow Street Example = FAR 2.2

Here we will see a few of the zoning issues that, as architects, we look into when evaluating the zoning of a property for a Multi Family Residential Development. Basically these are the steps an architect takes in determining the general shape, size, use, of a property. Additionally we look at more specific issues such as how many residential units you can put in a new residential development. this is based on an R6 district using the Quality Housing Program.

For this example, we will use a property that is 100 feet wide and 100 feet deep in an R6 zoning district. This building will be located on an interior lot in the middle of the block, properties at the corners of a block have different regulations with regards to yard requirements.

Property Line 100 x 100

Property Line 100 x 100

The property we are looking at is 100 feet by 100 feet, that means the property is 10,000 square feet.

100 x 100 = 10,000 square feet

Our first step is to calculate the floor area ration of the building also called FAR.

Floor Area Ratio

Floor area ratio (FAR) is a proportion that determines how many square feet your building can be. The FAR for this property is 2.2 as determined by the NYC Quality Housing Program Zoning Regulations. This means we take the property square footage and multiply it by the FAR to figure out the zoning square footage.

Property Square Footage X FAR = Zoning Square footage

Property Square footage = 10,000

FAR = 2.2

10,000 x 2.2 = 22,000

The zoning on this property allows 22,000 square feet to be built. 22,000 is the maximum required zoning square footage but the actual building can be a little larger after determining areas that do not count for zoning floor area. For the sake of simplicity of this example, we will not be considering those deductions.

We can build a 22,000 square foot building with 32 Apartments on this property. 


R6 Zoning Height Factor

Height factor is one set of zoning regulations that promotes building taller skinnier buildings. Height factor does not apply in “contextual districts.” There are proportional requirements governing the height, footprint, and general size of the building. With height factor zoning the taller the building gets the less area it can cover on the site, basically the taller it gets the skinnier it needs to be with more open space on the property. Additionally the taller buildings are allowed a higher floor area.

R6 Height Factor Example:

A 5 story building in an R6 Zone would have a Floor Area Ratio of 2.02 If you went to 14 stories you would be able to use the maximum Floor Area Ratio of 2.43. The floor area changes based on the number of stories and is proportional to the area the building can cover on the lot.


Number Of StoriesOpen Space RatioFloor Area Ratio
Over 21 Stories37.5 +.5 per story over 21HF FAR Formula



New Townhouse In Brooklyn R6 Zoning NYC

Here is an example of one of our new building designs in an R6 Zoning District with Quality Housing Program Zoning. This is a two family townhouse on a Small Zoning Lot

New Building R6 Zoning NYC

This is a rendering of a new Townhouse we are building in Brooklyn in an R6 zoning District.


NYC Zoning

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 R6. 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. If you truly want to understand the zoning of a property you can get an Architectural Zoning Analysis.


Thank You for Reading our Blog Post on R6 Zoning NYC

This is a really basic example of some of the calculations we do when performing a zoning analysis. There are many more variables and considerations to take into account. The NYC zoning code is thousands of pages. If you are interested in discussing zoning with an architect please feel free to contact us directly.


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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.