R6B Zoning NYC

R6B Zoning NYC

(Last Updated On: November 23, 2018)

R6B Zoning is a Contextual Zoning District in New York City. As a contextual district, buildings developed in R6B Zoning must comply with Quality Housing Program Regulations. R6B is a subdistrict of R6 Zoning.

R6B is mostly found in Brooklyn in neighborhoods like Gowanus, Bed Stuy, and Park Slope as well as Queens and The Bronx. R6B is a contextual zoning district this means that the goal is to “maintain the character of the neighborhood.” These districts are a bit more limited than the regular R6 district. R6B would most commonly have townhouses / brownstones but you can build small multifamily residential buildings of up to 4 or 5 stories.


R6B Zoning 

R6B is a medium density residential zoning district. Contextual Zoning Districts are meant to promote uniformity in the neighborhoods they are zoned in. This results in shorter low rise buildings with large footprints. In Contextual Zone R6B developments are required to follow the Quality Housing Program Regulations.

R6 Zoning Districts:


R6B Quality Housing Program

The quality housing program is quite common in R6 zones and is required in R6A and R6B zones. The Quality Housing Program promotes shorter wider buildings. This is not to be confused with the Inclusionary Housing Program for 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 building size.


What is R6A Zoning?

R6B has multifamily buildings and houses, that can range from walk up townhouses to small or medium sized apartment buildings. You are only allowed to build residential buildings or community facility buildings unless the property has a commercial overlay.


R6B Zoning Community Facility

R6B Zoning is a residential zone but Community Facility Zoning uses are also allowed in R6B districts. 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.


R6B Zoning Commercial Overlay

Sometimes residential districts have Commercial Overlays. This means the zone is primarily residential but commercial use is allowed instead or as a mixed use building.


R6B Innclusionary Housing Program

Some properties are subject to the requirements of the Inclusionary Housing Program. These are districts that have 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.


R6B Zoning Regulations

Lot Size:

Minimum Lot width =18 Feet

Minimum Lot Area = 1,700 Sq Ft

Lot Coverage:

Corner Lot = 100%

Interior or Through Lot = 60%

Floor Area Ratio (FAR):

Floor Area Ratio is a formula that determines how many square feet you can build on the property.

FAR = 2.0

Density Factor

680 – This is used to calculate how many apartments you can have. The total residential floor area is divided by this factor to get the maximum allowable number of dwelling units. This is also called the Dwelling Unit Factor.

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

Base height t: = 30 Minimum / 40 Maximum (45 with Qualifying Ground Floor)

Overall Building Height: This is the actual building height

Height: = 50 feet (55 Feet with Qualifying Ground Floor and Max 5 stories)


Corner Lot: No Yards Required

Interior Lot = 30 foot minimum rear yard required


50% of dwelling units

There are also waivers for small lots and lots with few parking requirements.


R6B Zoning

Lets look at a specific zoning case study for a project in Gowanus, Brooklyn. This case study is for a multi family apartment building. We will be looking to determine how many square feet the final building can be and how many apartments we can put in the building as per the zoning regulations. There is a great deal of nuance in zoning we are only looking at a few major points here.

R6B Zoning NYC Analysis Case Study

The first thing we want to do is determine the allowable floor area. This requires us to know the FAR or Floor Area Ratio. FAR is a proportion between the property size and the allowable building square footage as per zoning. In R6B Zoning the FAR is 2. If you do inclusionary housing it is 2.2. Inclusionary housing means you reserve a percentage of your apartments for affordable housing. On this project the client was not interested in having affordable units. Lets review the math.

R6B Zoning Lot Example

The Zoning Lot is 85′ x 100′ and located on the Corner.

Zoning Lot Area = 85 x 100

Zoning Lot Area = 8,500 square feet

FAR = 2

Allowable Zoning Square Footage = Zoning Lot Area X FAR

Allowable Zoning Floor Area = 8,500 x 2

Allowable Zoning Floor Area = 17,000 square feet


We can develop this property with a building that can have what we call 17,000 zoning square feet. this means the actual building will be a little larger than 17,000 square feet. There are certain things you can deduct from the zoning square footage, we won’t go into those deductions in this article but realize buildings are often a little larger than the allowable zoning square footage. A cellar is one example of something that does not count for zoning square footage. A cellar cannot have any apartments in it.

The next thing we are going to want to do is determine how many apartments are allowed on this property. That is simple enough. All zoning districts have a density factor. This is a formula to determine the number of units.

R6B has a density factor of 680 which means you can have 1 apartment of every 680 square feet of residential zoning floor area.

Number Of Dwelling Units = Zoning Floor Area  / Dwelling Unit Factor

Number Of Dwelling Units = 17,000 square feet / 680

Number Of Dwelling Units = 25

You can have 25 apartments in this building, of course you can have less if you like but 25 would be the maximum.

R6B Building Design

A building in an R6B zone cannot be taller than 50 feet. This does not count the elevator and stair bulkhead or roof parapet / handrails. We also are required in the front of the building to have a 15′ setback at a height between 30 and 40 feet. This means the front wall of the building will be a minimum of 30 feet high and a maximum of 40 feet high. Setbacks are very common in New York and we like to see them as opportunities. We took advantage and actually designed this scheme with multiple setbacks in the front and back in order to allow the apartments to have terraces. This is one of many options.

R6B Zoning

R6B Zoning

R6B Building Envelope

R6B zoning massing study

 R6B Building Conceptual Design


R6B Zoning Project Example

R6B Zoning NYC Building Design

R6B Zoning NYC Small Building Design (5 unit Multifamily building in R6B Zoning)



Thank You for reading our Blog Post on R6B Zoning Districts

I hope this was helpful. You can leave questions or comments below. If you want to discuss a specific project with an architect or get help with a Zoning Analysis please feel free to Contact Fontan Architecture directly. We will be happy to help. Follow the link to learn more about our Multi Family Architecture Firm.



  • Clint Okayama

    February 21, 2018 3:33 pm

    Thank you for this clear, stylish guide on zoning.

    I have one question: do zoning laws require a minimum amount of square footage per unit, and if so, how can I calculate that?

    For an example, using the restrictions listed above, would it be legal for me to build a number of very small units around a larger common area?

    Or even separate “pods”?

    Thanks again,

  • ken

    April 17, 2018 8:03 pm

    isn’t there a minimum base height? are you allowed to have setback before reaching the minimum base height??? from your design, you have multiple setbacks before reaching 40 ft.

  • Arsene Remy

    October 28, 2018 5:04 am

    Hey Jorge. I have an off market listing at 249 Marion St Bedstuy. Currently has 3750 bsft, current structure is 1312 sqdt frame single family building. The owner is considering purchasing the neighbor’s air rights to and sell with he building to make the deal more attractive to developers. My question is, will additional air rights above 3750 bsft be of any value/usable?

    http://bit.ly/2yc2Zxm – LiINK TO PROPERTY

    Arsene Remy

  • Mohammed Ahmed

    December 9, 2018 2:29 pm

    Hi Jorge I am looking into a property which is currently a 4 family and the address is as follows, (address removed). My question to you is there any potential in buying this? The listing agent says it consist of R6B With A Far Ratio Of Only 2.0 ? Im not sure what it means but I would love to know what could be done here ?

  • Natasha Stuy

    December 15, 2018 11:19 pm


    The plans shown above “R6B Zoning NYC Small Building Design (5 unit Multifamily building in R6B Zoning)” shows a basement or a cellar floor? And would that floor be a legal unit to count for dwellings if you wanted to say do a 3 family unit?

  • Sean Jolliff

    April 29, 2019 11:50 pm

    in a R6B zone – is it possible to build a tiny home (< 500 sq ft) in the extremely large backyard?

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