Adult Establishment Zoning NYC

(Last Updated On: April 30, 2019)

In NYC an Adult Establishment must comply with specific zoning and building codes that will restrict its location and size.


Adult Establishment Zoning NYC


  • NYC Zoning Definition of Adult Establishment
  • 40% Rule
  • Filing an Application with DOB for an Adult Establishment
  • 500 Foot Rule
  • Areas Where Adult Establishments are not Allowed
  • Size Limitations For Adult Establishments
  • Place Of Assembly


NYC Zoning Definition of Adult Establishment

The New York City Zoning Resolution has a four page definition of the term “Adult Establishment”. I am not going to review the entire 4 page definition I will include a few quotes bellow, but you can read the entire definition in Section 12-10 of the NYC Zoning Resolution.

The following is a quote from the NYC Department Of Buildings (DOB) Code Notes on Adult Establishments:

“An adult establishment is any commercial establishment which features the depiction, description, or display of “specified anatomical areas” or “specified sexual activities” to the degree defined in the Zoning Resolution.”

The following is quote is an excerpt from the NYC Zoning Resolution definition of an Adult Establishment:

“Adult Establishment: An “adult establishment” is a commercial establishment which is or includes an adult book store, adult eating or drinking establishment, adult theater, or other adult #commercial# establishment, or any combination thereof,”


40% Rule for Adult Establishments

If 40% or more of a commercial space is used for any adult uses as defined in the zoning code then the entire space is an adult Establishment.


Size Limitation for Adult Establishments

Adult Establishments in New York City are restricted to a maximum of 10,000 square feet.


Filing an Application with DOB for an Adult Establishment

In most places converting a space into an Adult Establishment will require a new Certificate of Occupancy. This involves an architect to file an Alteration Type 1 Application.

The Department Of Buildings Directive 14 and Professional Certification are not allowed even for minor alterations related to Adult Establishments. All plans for alterations must be reviewed by a NYC DOB Plan Examiner, and all work conducted on the space must be inspected by an NYC DOB Inspector.

The application must have a diagram showing a 500 foot radius from the main entrance of the establishment showing all building uses within a 500 foot radius.

When filing plans for an Adult Establishment with the NYC DOB the architect must include the following statement:

“No school, house of worship, or other adult establishment has been established within 500 feet of the center line of the door(s) of the principal entrance of the proposed adult establishment or of the center line of the ground floor of the door(s) giving the most direct street access to the proposed adult establishment.”


500 Foot Rule for Adult Establishments

New York City regulations do not allow new Adult Establishments within a 500 foot radius of certain other establishments specifically building uses identified as “sensitive receptors”. An Adult Establishment cannot be within 500 feet of a “House Of Worship”, School, or another Adult Establishment already in place.


Areas Where Adult Establishments are not Allowed in NYC

The following is a list of areas where an Adult Establishment is not allowed:

  • Residential Zoning Districts
  • On the same Zoning Lot as another Adult Establishment
  • In any of the following Zoning Districts: all C1 districts, all C2 districts, all C3 districts, all C4 districts, all C5 districts, C6-1, C6-2, or C6-3.
  • C6-4, C6-5, C6-6, C6-7, C6-8, C6-9, C7, or C8 zoning districts within 500′ of a:
    • Residential Zoning District
    • School
    • “House Of Worship”
    • Other Adult Establishments
    • C1, C2, C3, C4, C5-1, C6-1, C6-2, or C6-3 zoning districts
    • A manufacturing district (not M1-6M) where new residential use is allowed.


Place Of Assembly

An Adult Establishment that will have over 75 people in the establishment will require a Place Of Assembly Filing and Certificate Of Operation.


NYC Adult Establishment Codes

As an architect I study zoning and building codes closely. NYC Codes are complicated and quite involved. In this article, we reviewed some of the basic regulations with regards to Adult Establishment zoning in NYC. This analysis does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview. This post does not substitute the NYC Zoning or Building Codes.


Thank you for reading our blog post on Adult Establishment Zoning In NYC.

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.


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