R7 is a medium density residential zoning district. R7 Zoning is found commonly in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan. This article will focus on basic R7 Zoning districts including R7-1 Zoning & R7-2 Zoning. We will not be going into the contextual districts see list below. We have separate blog posts for those.
R7 Zoning Districts
Basic R7 Districts
- R7-1 Zoning
- R7-2 Zoning
R7 Contextual Districts
COMMERCIAL ZONING WITH RESIDENTIAL EQUIVALENT R7-2 ZONING
Most Commercial Zoning districts allow for residential use. Below are Commercial zones with R7-2 Residential Equivalents.
WHAT IS R7 ZONING?
R7-1 Zoning & R7-2 Zoning
R7 Zoning is considered medium density residential. It is broken into 2 basic zoning districts R7-1 and R7-2. R7 zoning has multifamily buildings that can be low rise to somewhat taller apartment buildings. In an R7 zone you have 2 options for zoning regulations you can use Height Factor Zoning or Quality Housing Program.
For the most part R7-1 and R7-2 are almost identical in their zoning characteristics. The only difference is that R7-2 (Common in Upper Manhattan) has less parking requirements. All requirements except parking will follow the R7 Zoning Regulations.
Height Factor for R7 Zones
Height factor is one set of zoning regulations that promotes building taller skinnier buildings. There are proportional requirements governing the height and size of the building. 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.
R7 Height Factor Example:
A 7 story building in R7-2 Zoning would have a Floor Area Ratio of 3.05 If you went to 14 Stories you would get the maximum Floor Area Ratio of 3.44
|Number Of Stories||Open Space Ratio||Floor area Ratio|
|Over 21 Stories||25.5 + .5 per story over 21||HF FAR Formula|
Quality Housing Program for R7 Zones
The quality housing program is probably more common in R7 zones and in fact is required in R7 contextual 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 is just another set of optional zoning regulations and has nothing to do with low income or 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 total building size.
Below you will see a general zoning analysis example of an R7-2 Zoning building for Quality Housing Program rules.
R7 ZONING COMMUNITY FACILITY
R7 Zoning is a residential zone but Community Facility uses are allowed in all R7. 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.
R7 ZONING COMMERCIAL OVERLAY
Sometimes residential districts have commercial overlays. This means the zone is primarily residential but commercial use is allowed instead or you can have both as a mixed use building. Here is a link to an article we wrote on Commercial Overlays.
R7 Inclusionary Housing Program
Always check if your property is in an Inclusionary Zoning District. These are districts that have either 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 bonuses if you do.
R7 Zoning Regulations For Quality Housing
R7-1 and R7-2 will follow all of the following regulations up to the parking section which is the only real difference.
Minimum Lot width =18 Feet
Minimum Lot Area = 1,700 Sq Ft
Corner Lot = 80%
Interior or Through Lot = 65%
Floor Area Ratio (FAR):
Manhattan Core: = 3.44
Narrow street = 3.44
Wide street = 4.0
Building Base Height: This indicates a setback is required at these heights
Manhattan Core: = 40 Minimum / 60 Maximum
Narrow street = 40 Minimum / 60 Maximum
Wide street = 40 Minimum / 65 Maximum
Overall Building Height: This is the actual building height
Manhattan Core: = 75 feet
Narrow street = 75 feet
Wide street = 80 feet
Corner Lot: No Yards Required
Interior Lot = 30 foot minimum rear yard required
R7 Zoning Example
Lets do an example analysis. Zoning is complicated and I am only addressing the basics here. I assure you there are many additional issues and variations to consider beyond this example.
R7-2 Zoning Example Lot
Lets assume we have a 100 x 100 property in R7-2 Zoning in Harlem on an interior lot. This property is outside of the Manhattan Core and we will assume it is on a wide street.
Building Foot Print:
First Lets start with Lot Coverage and Yards. We know we will need a minimum rear yard of 30 feet. That tells us we have 100 x 70 to build on. Except that we can only cover 65% of the property. So lets build from Side lot line to side lot line for the full 100 feet but lets only go 60 feet deep (we could go 65 but lets do 60 for this example). This will result in a 40 foot rear yard.
Zoning Floor Area/ Floor Area Ratio (FAR)
So the floor area ratio on a wide street outside the Manhattan Core is 4. The FAR is a ratio that determines how many square feet you can build on the property. You simply take the property size and multiply it by the FAR.
In this example: FAR of 4 and lot of 100 feet x 100 feet.
Zoning Floor Area = Lot Area X FAR
Lot Area = 100 x 100
Lot Area = 10,000 sq ft
FAR = 4.0
Zoning Floor Area = 10,000 sq ft x 4
Zoning Floor Area = 40,000 sq ft
So we can build a 40,000 sq ft building.
We said our building foot print would be 65 x 100. Or 6,000 per floor.
This will give us a 7 Story Building. Because the maximum base height is 65 feet we will at minimum need a setback for the top floor.
How many apartments can we build on our R7-2 lot?
Zoning regulates the maximum number of residential units you can put in a building.
R7-2 Zoning Example Conclusion
In this example we are proposing to build a 40,000 sq ft building. The apartment building will be 7 stories tall and have a setback at the top floor or lower. The Building will have a foot print of 100 x 60. It will have a maximum of 59 apartments but can have less as well.
R7 Zoning in NYC
As an architect I study Zoning Codes, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article we reviewed some of the basic concepts with regards to the R7 Zoning Districts. 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 post on R7 Zoning in NYC.
I hope this was helpful. If you want to discuss a specific project with an architect please feel free to 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.