R8B Zoning NYC

by | Last updated Jul 10, 2020 | NYC Zoning

R8B Zoning in NYC is high density residential zoning district. This is contextual zoning which means following the Quality Housing Program Requirements. R8B Zoning is found mostly in  Manhattan on the Upper West Side and Upper East Side. It is also found in a few other parts of Manhattan, and a small portion of Brooklyn and Queens.

This post will only be addressing R8B Zoning, here is a list of all the R8 Zoning Districts.


R8 Zoning Districts

Basic R8 District:

R8 Contextual Districts


R8B Zoning NYC

What IS R8B Zoning?

R8B Zoning is considered “high density” residential zoning. It typically has multifamily buildings that are often 6 or 7 stories. In an R8B zone you must follow the Quality Housing Program zoning regulations.


Quality Housing Program R8B 

The Quality Housing Program promotes shorter wider buildings that are typically larger in square footage then a tall skinny building. The Quality Housing Program 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.


R8B Zoning Community Facility

R8B Zoning is a residential zone but Community Facility uses are allowed in all R8 zones. 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.


R8 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.


R8B Inclusionary Housing Program

Always check if your property is subject to requirements of the Inclusionary Housing Program. 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 zoning bonuses if you do.


R8B Zoning Regulations For Quality Housing

Lot Size:

Minimum Lot width =18 Feet

Minimum Lot Area = 1,700 Sq Ft

Lot Coverage:

Corner Lot = 100%

Interior or Through Lot = 70%

Floor Area Ratio (FAR):

FAR = 4

Density Factor

680 – This is used to calculate how many apartments you can have. The total residential floor area is divided by this factor to get the maximum allowable number of dwelling units.

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

Base Height = 55 Minimum / 65 Maximum

A setback is required in the base height range. Or this can be the maximum height of the building without a setback.

Overall Building Height: This is the maximum building height

Manhattan Core: = 75 feet

R8B Zones are subject to Sliver Law zoning restrictions for properties less than 45 feet wide. the sliver law is an additional restriction on the height of the building and supersedes the typical building height requirements.


Corner Lot: No Yards Required

Interior Lot = 30 foot minimum rear yard required


R8B Zoning Example

Here is an example analysis. Be aware that 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.

R8B Zoning Example Lot

Lets assume we have a 50 foot wide and 100 foot deep property in an R8B Zoning District in Manhattan on the Upper West side on an interior lot and lets say 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 50 x 70 to build on, and we can cover 70% of the property. this works out well with a 3,500 sq ft area we can build on.

Zoning Floor Area/ Floor Area Ratio (FAR)

So the floor area ratio 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 we have:

FAR of 4

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 = 4

Zoning Floor Area = 5,000 sq ft x 4

Zoning Floor Area = 20,000 sq ft

How many apartments can we build on our R8B lot?

Zoning regulates the maximum number of residential units you can put in a building.

R8B Zoning Example Conclusion

In this example we are proposing to build a 20,000 sq ft building. The apartment building will be 6 stories tall and have a setback at least on the top floor. The Building will have a foot print of 50 x 70. It will have a maximum of 29 apartments but can have less as well.


R8B Zoning 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 the R8B 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 Blog Post on R8B Zoning

I hope this was helpful. If you want to discuss a specific project 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.