R9A Zoning NYC

by | Last updated Jun 15, 2021 | NYC Zoning

R9A Zoning in NYC is high density contextual residential zoning district. This is contextual zoning which means following the Quality Housing Program requirements.

This post will only be addressing R9A Zoning, here is a list of all the other R9 Zoning Districts.


R9 Zoning Districts

Basic R9 District:

R9 Contextual Districts

Commercial Zoning with R9A Residential Equivalent 


R9A Zoning NYC

What Is R9A Zoning?

R9A Zoning is considered “high density” residential zoning. It typically has multifamily buildings that are often around 10 stories or more. In an R9A zone you must follow the Quality Housing Program zoning regulations.


Quality Housing Program R9A 

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.


R9A Zoning Community Facility

R9A Zoning is a residential zone but Community Facility uses are allowed in all R9 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.


R9A 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.


R9A 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.


R9A 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 =7.52

With Inclusionary Housing Bonus FAR = 8.5

Density Factor


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

Narrow Street

Base Height = 60 Minimum / 95 Maximum

Wide Street

Base Height = 60 Minimum / 100 Maximum

Inclusionary Housing Base height

Narrow Street

Base Height = 60 Minimum / 125 Maximum

Wide Street

Base Height = 60 Minimum / 125 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

Narrow Street Max Building Height = 135

Wide Street Max Building Height = 145

Inclusionary Housing Building Height

Narrow Street Max Building Height = 160 or 165 with Qualifying Ground Floor (16 Stories max)

Wide Street Max Building Height = 170 feet or 175 with Qualifying Ground Floor (17 Stories max)

Always check if your building is 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


R9A 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.

R9A Zoning Example Lot

Lets assume we have a 50 foot wide and 100 foot deep property in an R9A Zoning District on The Upper West side of Manhattan on an interior lot 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 7.52. The Floor Area Ratio or 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 7.52

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 = 7.52

Zoning Floor Area = 5,000 sq ft x 7.52

Zoning Floor Area = 37,600 sq ft

How many apartments can we build on our R9A lot?

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

R9A Zoning Example Conclusion

In this example we are proposing to build a 37,600 sq ft building. The apartment building will be at least 11 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 55 apartments but can have less as well.


NYC R9A 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 commercial zoning district R9A. This analysis does not assume to cover every possible issue and condition, but provide a general overview of the zoning codes.


Thank You for reading our Blog Post on R9A Zoning in NYC.

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.


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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.