NYC Zoning Deductions

NYC Zoning Deductions

(Last Updated On: October 17, 2018)

NYC Zoning regulates how many square feet you can develop on a given property through a formula called Floor Area Ratio. Since the floor area that one can build is limited optimize your floor area as best you can. This means making an efficient building and taking any possible deduction. There are certain deductions you can have in your building area that would not count towards the FAR.

 

NYC Zoning Deductions

The Zoning Code does not really use the term Zoning Deductions, but it lists areas that do not count for zoning floor area. Bellow we will cover some areas that do not count as floor area and can be considered a deduction. These areas do not apply in all cases so be careful. You may want to read another post we wrote on Floor Area Ratio Calculations.

 

  • Cellars
  • Bulkheads
  • Uncovered Steps
  • Attics in certain cases
  • Open Bridges, Breezeways, and Porches
  • Parking 
  • Exterior Loading
  • Mechanical Deductions
  • Balconies or Terraces
  • Stairwells (partially and only sometimes) 
  • Exterior Wall Thickness for High Energy Efficiency

Quality Housing Program Floor Area Deductions

  • Elevated Ground Floor Lobby 
  • Refuse Storage Room and Disposal
  • Laundry Facility Floor Area
  • Corridors with Daylight 
  • Low Density Corridors

 

Zoning is complicated. The following is meant to be an outline. These are basic concepts and are not meant to substitute a working knowledge of the zoning code.

 

General Building Areas Not Counted For Zoning

Cellar Not Counted For Zoning Floor Area

Cellar floor area is not counted for zoning unless there are residences or dwelling units in the cellar. If it had dwelling it would most likely be a basement as dwelling is not allowed in a cellar. See another post we wrote on the difference between a basement and cellar.

Bulkheads do not Count For Zoning Floor Area

Stair and Elevator bulkheads on the roof do not count for floor area except in an R2A Zoning Districts.

Uncovered Steps

Steps outside of the building that are open do not count for floor area. Covered Stairs do count. Interior stairs count.

Attic Zoning Deductions

Attic Spaces with a headroom under 5 feet can be deducted from zoning in the following zoning districts: R2A, R2X, R3, R4, and R5 .

Attic Spaces with a headroom under 8 feet can be deducted from zoning in the following zoning districts: R1 & R2 (Except R2A and R2X)

Attic Space for R6, R7, R8, R9, & R10

  • Attic space with head height under 8 feet can be deducted for One and Two family homes in R6, R7, R8, R9, & R10
  • Attic space with head height under 8 feet can be deducted for multifamily buildings in R6, R7, R8, R9, & R10 if they were built before February 2nd, 2011

Open Bridges, Breezeways, and Porches

If they are more then 50% open bridges, breezeways, and porches do not count for floor area. They cannot have a parapet over 3′-8″ high.

Parking Floor Area Deductions

There are several deductions for indoor parking. They vary on how much of a deduction and when the deductions count. I am not going to get into the details on this one. Parking is more complicated than people think.

Exterior Loading Areas

Depending on how large of an area, exterior loading areas may be partially and in some cases fully omitted from zoning.

NYC Zoning Mechanical Deductions

Mechanical spaces can be deducted from zoning. Mechanical deductions are a huge one especially in large buildings because you can have a large area dedicated to mechanical space.

NYC Zoning Mechanical Deductions do not apply in R2A Zoning.

In R1-2A, R2X, R3, R4, & R5 the deductions are limited to 50 square feet for the first dwelling unit, 30 feet for the second, and then 10 for each unit over 2.

In high rise buildings it is common to have entire floors dedicated to mechanical equipment. In this case the entire floor can be deducted from the zoning floor area calculations.

Balconies and Terraces 

Balconies and Terraces do not count for zoning if the perimeter is not more than 67% enclosed.

Stairwells in Tall Building can be partially deducted in certain cases.

The biggest myth I hear about zoning is that people tend to think you can deduct stairwells. You must count stairwells for zoning floor area. There are certain instances where you can deduct a portion of stairwells in tall buildings.

You can deduct 8″ along the length of Stairs in Residential Buildings over 125 feet tall if the stairs are at least 44″ wide. This is for buildings built after April 16, 2008.

You can get some deductions in non residential Buildings over 420 feet tall. This is for buildings built after April 28, 2015.

Exterior Wall Thickness for High Energy Efficiency

In buildings who’s exterior walls outperform the Energy Code Requirements you can get a partial deduction on the wall thickness.

 

Quality Housing Program Zoning Deductions 

There are additional zoning deductions that will allow a developer to make a larger building when using the Quality Housing Program. The following deductions only apply to residential buildings following the Quality Housing Program zoning regulations. If you have a mixed use building these deductions would only apply to the residential portion for the building.

Quality Housing Program Floor Area Deductions

  • Elevated Ground Floor Lobby 
  • Refuse Storage Room and Disposal
  • Laundry Facility Floor Area
  • Corridors with Daylight 
  • Low Density Corridors

Elevated Ground Floor Zoning Deduction

Quality Housing buildings with an elevated ground floor entered by stairs, ramp, or lift with apartments on the first floor can have some zoning deductions. This deduction can be applied to the entryway of the building. You can deduct 100 square feet for every 1 foot above the curb of the first floor. The maximum deduction is 500 square feet.

Example 1:

If the first floor is 3 feet above the curb you can deduct 300 square feet from the entryway or vestibule area.

Example 2:

If you are 6 feet above curb you can deduct up to 500 square feet because that is the maximum area allowed for this deduction.

This deduction cannot be applied to the apartments themselves or any other accessory space. It can only be applied to the entryway area. A vestibule and front entrance for example. There is also a stipulation for Qualifying Ground Floor which can increase the building height for some buildings with elevated first floors.

Refuse storage and Disposal Zoning Deductions

If you have more then 9 apartments in total per vertical circulation core you must provide garbage storage and disposal. One garbage storage space must be provided with 2.9 cubic feet per apartment. Trash rooms are on every floor. You must also have a minimum of 12 square foot per trash room. 12 square feet of the trash room can be deducted from the zoning floor area.

Laundry Facilities Zoning Deductions

If you provided a laundry facility you can deduct the floor area of that space from the zoning floor area. To qualify you must meet the following criteria.

  • Minimum 1 washer per 20 Apartments.
  • Minimum 1 dryer per 40 apartments.
  • Minimum 3 square feet for chairs and laundry folding table.
  • Windows must be provided with a square footage of at least 9.5% of the laundry room floor area. Windows must face a street, yard, or court as defined in the zoning code.

Daylight In Corridors Zoning Deductions

If you provide a window in the public corridors you can deduct up to 50% of the floor area of such corridor. to qualify you must meet the following standards.

  • The window must be at least 20 square feet.
  • Glass must be clear, no tints.
  • The window must be visible from at least 50% of the corridor.
  • Windows must face a street, yard, or court as defined in the zoning code.

Density Per Corridor Zoning Deduction

50% of a corridor floor area can be deducted from the zoning floor area if you meet the following criteria. Here are the maximum number of apartments served by each corridor per floor.

  • R6 & R7 Zoning – 11 apartments
  • R8 Zoning – 10 apartments
  • R9 & R10 – 8 apartments

 

 


Thank You for reading our post on NYC Zoning Deductions.

If you have questions or comments please feel free to leave them below. If you would like to speak with an NYC architect please feel free to contact us directly. We are happy to hear about your upcoming projects.

 

New York Architects, Jorge Fontan

Author Jorge Fontan AIA

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

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