R6B Zoning is a Contextual Zoning District in New York City. As a contextual district, buildings developed in R6B Zoning must comply with Quality Housing Program Regulations. R6B is a subdistrict of R6 Zoning.
In NYC R6B is mostly in Brooklyn neighborhoods like Gowanus, Bed Stuy, and Park Slope as well as certain parts of Queens and The Bronx. R6B is a contextual zoning district this means that the goal is to “maintain the character of the neighborhood.” These districts are a bit more limited than the regular R6 district. An R6B Zoning District would most commonly have townhouses / brownstones but you can build small multifamily residential buildings of up to 4 or 5 stories.
R6B is a medium density residential zoning district. Contextual Zoning Districts are meant to promote uniformity in the neighborhoods they are zoned in. This results in shorter low rise buildings with large footprints. R6B is a Contectual Zoning District therefore developments in R6B must follow the Quality Housing Program Regulations.
R6 Zoning Districts:
R6B Quality Housing Program
The quality housing program is quite common in R6 zones and is mandatory in R6A and R6B zones. The Quality Housing Program promotes shorter wider buildings. Do not confuse it with the Inclusionary Housing Program for affordable housing. The quality housing program typically will result in a larger building of a higher quality but not necessarily tall. There are more zoning floor area deductions in quality housing that would give you a boost to your building size, but these are minimal.
What is R6B Zoning?
R6B has multifamily buildings and houses, that can range from walk up townhouses to small or medium sized apartment buildings. You are only develop residential buildings or community facility buildings unless the property has a commercial overlay.
R6B Zoning Community Facility
R6B Zoning is a residential zone but Community Facility Zoning uses are also allowed in R6B districts. 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.
R6B Zoning Commercial Overlay
Sometimes residential districts have Commercial Overlays but not all. This means the zone is primarily residential but commercial use can be developed instead or as a mixed use building.
R6B Innclusionary Housing Program
Some properties are subject to the requirements of the Inclusionary Housing Program. These are districts that have optional and sometimes mandatory requirements for low income housing. Typically in these areas you provide 20% of your floor area for affordable units. There can be zoning penalties if you choose not to provide it, and zoning bonuses if you do.
R6B Zoning Regulations
Minimum Lot width =18 Feet
Minimum Lot Area = 1,700 Sq Ft
Corner Lot = 100%
Interior or Through Lot = 60%
Floor Area Ratio (FAR):
Floor Area Ratio is a formula that determines how many square feet you can build on the property.
FAR = 2.0
Building Base Height: This indicates a setback is required at these heights
Base height t: = 30 Minimum / 40 Maximum (45 with Qualifying Ground Floor)
Overall Building Height: This is the actual building height
Height: = 50 feet (55 Feet with Qualifying Ground Floor and Max 5 stories)
Corner Lot: No Yards Required
Interior Lot = 30 foot minimum rear yard required
50% of dwelling units
There are also waivers for small lots and lots with few parking requirements.
Lets look at a specific zoning case study for a project in Gowanus, Brooklyn. This case study is for a multi family apartment building. We will be looking to determine how many square feet the final building can be and how many apartments we can put in the building as per the zoning regulations. There is a great deal of nuance in zoning we are only looking at a few major points here.
R6B Zoning NYC Analysis Case Study
The first thing we want to do is determine the allowable floor area. This requires us to know the FAR or Floor Area Ratio. FAR is a proportion between the property size and the allowable building square footage as per zoning. In R6B Zoning the FAR is 2. If you do inclusionary housing it is 2.2, but we will not be looking at Inclusionary Housing here. Inclusionary housing means you reserve a percentage of your apartments for affordable housing.
The Zoning Lot is 85′ x 100′ and located on the Corner.
Zoning Lot Area = 85 x 100
Zoning Lot Area = 8,500 square feet
FAR = 2
Allowable Zoning Square Footage = Zoning Lot Area X FAR
Allowable Zoning Floor Area = 8,500 x 2
Zoning Floor Area = 17,000 square feet
We can develop this property with a building that can have what we call 17,000 zoning square feet. this means the actual building will be a little larger than 17,000 square feet. You can have 25 apartments in this building, of course you can have less if you like but 25 would be the maximum.
R6B Building Design
A building in an R6B zone cannot be taller than 50 feet. This does not count the elevator and stair bulkhead or roof parapet / handrails. We also are required in the front of the building to have a 15′ setback at a height between 30 and 40 feet. This means the front wall of the building will be a minimum of 30 feet high and a maximum of 40 feet high. Setbacks are very common in New York and we like to see them as opportunities. We took advantage and actually designed this scheme with multiple setbacks in the front and back in order to allow the apartments to have terraces. This is one of many options.
NYC R6B Zoning Project Example
R6B Zoning Codes in NYC
As an architect I study Zoning Codes closely, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article we reviewed some of the basic concepts with regards to R6B Zoning in NYC. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.
Thank You for reading our Blog Post on R6B Zoning Districts
I hope this was helpful. You can leave questions or comments below. If you want to discuss a specific project with an architect 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 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.