C5-2 Zoning NYC massing diagram

C5-2 Zoning NYC

(Last Updated On: January 14, 2019)

C5-2 Zoning is a commercial zoning district in NYC. In C5-2 you can build a variety of commercial building uses, community facilities and residential buildings with tall buildings and high floor areas.


C5-2 Zoning

The C5-2 Zoning District is a sub district of C5 Zoning in NYC. C5 is a central zoning district with generally large buildings having retail, offices, hotels, and residential uses. These are mapped in Midtown East of Manhattan.

C5-2 Zoning Districts:

C5-2 Residential Equivalent:

  • R10


C5-2 Zoning Regulations

As architects we study zoning very closely it is complicated and deep. In this article we will review some of the basic Zoning Codes with regards to commercial zoning district C5-2. This analysis does not assume to cover every possible issue but provide a general overview.

C5-2 Residential Equivalent

Most Commercial Zoning districts have a Residential Equivalent. This equivalent is the Residential Zoning you would comply with when developing a residential building. The residential equivalent for C5-2 is R10 Zoning. The R10 district has the highest Floor Area Ratio for an residential district in NYC and therefor the tallest largest residential buildings.

Mixed Use Building

You can develop a mixed use building with commercial and residential zoning. In this case you would apply the requirements of C5-2 and R10 in designing the building.


C5-2 Zoning Specifications

C5-2 Commercial Floor Area Ratio (FAR):

Floor Area Ratio determines the floor area that can be built on the property.

FAR =  10

The FAR is for Commercial Floor Area. Coincidentally this is the same as the Equivalent R10 floor area ratio. that is not always the case.

Plaza Floor Area Bonus:

1 to 6 ratio plaza to building floor area bonus

You can build 6 additional square feet of building for every square foot of plaza. Plazas have specific requirements not all locations qualify.

Arcade Floor Area Bonus 

1 to 3 ratio arcade to building floor area bonus

You can build 3 additional square feet of building for every square foot of arcade. Arcades have specific requirements not all locations qualify.

C5-2 Community Facility Floor area Ratio

FAR =  10

Sometimes the FAR is higher for community facilities in this case it is not.

Yard Requirements for Commercial Use in C5-2

Side Yards

Side Yards are not required, but if side yards are provided they must comply with the following:

At minimum 8 feet in width or

At minimum 5 feet in width with an average width of 8 feet.

Some special circumstances will require side yards.

Rear Yard

20 Foot rear yard required

C5-2 Height And Setback

Initial Setback Distance

20 feet on narrow street

15 on wide street

Building Height Within Initial Setback Distance = 85 feet or 6 stories whichever is less

Sky Exposure Plane Vertical to Horizontal

Narrow Street Sky Exposure Plane = 2.7 to 1

Wide Street Sky Exposure Plane = 5.6 to 1

C5-2 Alternate Height And Setback

Alternate height and setback regulations can apply if you provide open space for the entire length of the front lot line.

Depth Of Optional Front Yard

15 feet on narrow street

10 on wide street

Sky Exposure Plane Height Above Street Line = 85 feet

Sky Exposure Plane Vertical to Horizontal

Narrow Street Sky Exposure Plane = 3.7 to 1

Wide Street Sky Exposure Plane = 7.6 to 1


A tower can penetrate the sky exposure plane. Towers are buildings that cover less then a certain percentage of the property. The percentage is set in the zoning code according to the lot area.


Thank You for reading our Blog Post on C5-2 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 please feel free to contact Fontan Architecture directly. We will be happy to help.


New York Architects, Jorge Fontan

Author Jorge Fontan AIA

This post was written by Jorge Fontan, a Registered Architect and owner of Fontan Architecture.

No Comments

Post a Comment