R6 Zoning NYC Residential Development

by | Last updated Jul 18, 2023 | NYC Zoning

New York City has many different zoning districts and subdistricts. These all have specific rules concerning what you can develop on a given property.


What is R6 Zoning?

In NYC, R6 Zoning is a medium-density residential zoning district. It has optional regulations for the Quality Housing Program. R6 You can find R6 in certain parts of Manhattan, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.

I am Jorge Fontan, an architect in New York and owner of NYC-based architecture firm Fontan Architecture. In this post, I will discuss some basic concepts regarding R6 zoning in New York City. Before getting into the specifics, here is a list of all the R6 Zoning Districts.


Basic R6 Zoning Districts

  • 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.


What Can You Build in R6 Zoning in NYC?

R6 is a medium-density contextual residential zoning district in New York City. In an R6 district, you can develop townhouses or small residential buildings, typically four to six stories high. In R6, you can choose Height Factor Zoning or Quality Housing Program. 


Height Factor for R6 Zones

Height Factor is one set of zoning regulations promoting taller, skinnier buildings. There are proportional requirements governing the height and size of the building. The taller the building, the less area it can cover on the site. The taller it gets, the skinnier it needs to be, with more open space on the property.

You would need a large property for Height Factor to make practical sense in an R6 Zone.


Quality Housing Program R6 Zoning 

The Quality Housing Program, or QHP, is a set of zoning rules that are mandatory in Contextual Districts and optional in many others. Quality Housing promotes shorter, wider buildings, typically larger in square footage than tall, skinny buildings. The Quality Housing Program differs from the Inclusionary Housing Program for affordable housing. The quality housing program is a separate set of zoning regulations and has nothing to do with low-income or affordable housing.

In regular R6 zoning, the Quality Housing Program is optional, but I do think it will make sense to use QHP on many R6 properties in NYC. QHP aims to promote a higher quality building and allow for a slightly higher floor area. There are more zoning floor area deductions in the Quality Housing Program than in other zoning types. These deductions would give you a slight boost to your total building size. R6 is not a “Contextual District,” and therefore, it is optional to apply the rules of the Quality Housing Program.


Inclusionary Housing Program

The Inclusionary Housing Program promotes mixed-income housing by offering a Floor Area Bonus to developments that include a percentage of affordable units. These districts have optional or sometimes mandatory requirements for affordable housing. There can be zoning floor area restrictions if you choose not to provide affordable units and zoning bonuses if you do.

Not all areas have Inclusionary Housing requirements. These are located in certain parts of the city.


R6 Zoning & Community Facility Use

R6 Zoning is a residential zone, but Community Facility uses are allowed in all R6 zones. In a community facility, the zoning calculations may differ from the residential option. One can also build a mixed-use building with both community facilities and residential use.


R6 Zoning Commercial Overlay

Sometimes residential districts have commercial overlays. A commercial overlay means the zone is primarily residential, but commercial use is also allowed. In this case, you can develop a commercial building or have both as a mixed-use building. In the case of R6, the commercial overlay will typically offer less floor area for commercial use than is allowed for residential use. Here is a link to an article we wrote on Commercial Overlays if you want to read more. 


R6 Zoning Regulations for QHP

Below is an example of R6 zoning restrictions with a few basic calculations. These numbers are all from the optional Quality Housing Program for R6. This type of information would be found in a Zoning Analysis or Zoning Report.


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%

A 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 a wide street)

Manhattan Core Narrow Street: = 2.2

Everywhere Else:

Narrow street = 2.2

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

R6 Zoning Height Restrictions:

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


R6 Zoning Analysis Example

Here is an example of a zoning analysis. Be aware that zoning is complicated, and I only address some basics here. I assure you that there are many additional issues and variations beyond this example.


R6 Zoning Example Lot

Let’s assume we have a 50-foot wide and 100-foot deep property in an R6 Zoning District on a narrow street in Brooklyn on an interior lot. For this example, I will use QHP regulations.

Zoning Floor Area/ Floor Area Ratio (FAR)

The floor area ratio is 2.2, Floor Area Ratio or FAR is a ratio that determines how many square feet you can build on the property. You take the property size and multiply it by the FAR.

In this example, we have:

FAR of 2.2

Lot Size of 50 feet x 100 feet.

Zoning Floor Area = Lot Area X FAR

Lot Area = 50 x 100

Lot Area = 5,000 sq ft

FAR = 2.2

Zoning Floor Area = 5,000 sq ft x 2.2

Zoning Floor Area = 11,000 sq ft


How many apartments can we build on our R6 lot?

Zoning regulates the maximum number of residential units allowed in a building.


R6 Zoning Example Conclusion

In this example, we propose building an 11,000 sq ft building. The apartment building could be four or five stories tall and have a setback at the top floor. The building will have a footprint of 50 x 60.


R6 Zoning Codes

The New York City Zoning Resolution is complicated and quite in-depth. In this article, we reviewed some basic Zoning Codes concerning R6 Zoning. This analysis does not assume to cover every possible issue but provides a general overview of the relevant zoning codes. Every project is unique and should be assessed by a professional licensed Architect.


Thank you for reading our Blog Post on R6 Zoning.

I hope this was helpful. If you want to discuss a specific project with an architect, please 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.