Zoning FAQ NYC

by | Jul 12, 2019 | NYC Zoning, Property Development


Zoning FAQ NYC


The following are New York City  Zoning Frequently Asked Questions we receive in our New York Architecture Firm: Fontan Architecture.

Residential Zoning FAQ

Small Zoning Lots

Q. Can I build multifamily on a small zoning lot?

A. The NYC Zoning Resolution identifies minimum lot sizes for residential zoning. If a property is smaller than the minimum lot size in either width or square footage, the lot cannot be developed for multifamily use.


Commercial Zoning FAQ

Hotel Zoning

Q. Is a hotel commercial or residential zoning?

A. Hotels are commercial zoning.


Manufacturing Zoning FAQ

Residential use in Manufacturing Districts

Q. Can I build residential in a manufacturing zone?

A. In most cases no. There are some exceptions:

  1. If you are in a residential zone ending with a D, for example M1-1D, you may be able to get a special permit for residential use.
  2. NYC has some Mixed Zoning Districts where a property can be in a Manufacturing and Residential Zoning District paired zone.

Hotels in Manufacturing Zoning

Q. Can I build a hotel in a manufacturing zoning M Zone?

A. Hotels in Manufacturing or M zoning districts require special permits and these are only available for M1 Districts. The hotel special permit will be reviewed on a case by case basis by the NYC Department of City Planning.


Mixed Use Buildings Zoning FAQ

Commercial Overlay FAR

Q. Do I add the commercial overlay FAR to the residential FAR.

A. No, you never add the FAR, if you have multiple FAR based on different uses for a property whichever is the largest will be the total FAR for the building. Each individual use cannot exceed its given FAR.

Residential Equivalent

Q. Can I use the commercial FAR for residential use.

A. No you cannot use commercial FAR for residential use. In most NYC commercial zoning districts, there is a Residential equivalent this will determine the requirements for residential use.


NYC Zoning Frequently Asked Questions  

As an architect, I study Zoning Codes, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article we reviewed some Frequently Asked Questions we receive about NYC Zoning. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.

NYC Zoning and the Fontan Architecture Blog Disclaimer

This blog does not substitute the NYC Zoning Resolution.

The number one phenomenon that has surprised me since I started writing an Architecture Blog is that there are people, amateurs and developers, property owners and architects, who read my blog and base serious development decisions on one of my blog posts. This is ridiculous, unwise, and I strongly advise against it. Anyone who uses my blog as the sole or primary source of their zoning knowledge is greatly misguided.

The point of my blog is not to teach a subject. None of my blog posts cover all the nuance and depth on any topic. My blog is meant to show how complicated these issues are and to make it so an individual can at minimum understand some broad topics and be able to engage in a discussion on the topic. That is it. You will not learn how to do zoning from reading my blog. You will need to hire professionals to help you with your project. I have written hundreds of blog posts on zoning, but to cover the entire breadth of New York City zoning, I would have to write thousands more at least.


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Thank you for reading our blog post on NYC Zoning FAQs.

I hope this was helpful. Please leave questions and comments below. If you would like to speak with an architect you can Contact Fontan Architecture directly.


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 15 years where he has designed renovations and new developments of various building types.