R6B Zoning NYC

by | Last updated Jun 2, 2020 | Published on Nov 2, 2016 | NYC Zoning

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.

In NYC R6B is mostly in Brooklyn neighborhoods like Gowanus, Bed Stuy, and Park Slope as well as certain parts of 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. An R6B Zoning District would most commonly have townhouses / brownstones but you can build small multifamily residential buildings of up to 4 or 5 stories.

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. R6B is a Contectual Zoning District therefore developments in R6B must 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 mandatory in R6A and R6B zones. The Quality Housing Program promotes shorter wider buildings. Do not confuse it with the Inclusionary Housing Program for affordable housing. The quality housing program typically will result in a larger building of a higher quality but not necessarily tall. There are more zoning floor area deductions in quality housing that would give you a boost to your building size, but these are minimal.


What is R6B Zoning?

R6B has multifamily buildings and houses, that can range from walk up townhouses to small or medium sized apartment buildings. You are only develop 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 but not all. This means the zone is primarily residential but commercial use can be developed 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


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, but we will not be looking at Inclusionary Housing here. Inclusionary housing means you reserve a percentage of your apartments for affordable housing.

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

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. 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.


NYC R6B Zoning Project Example



R6B Zoning Codes in NYC

As an architect I study Zoning Codes closely, but these are complicated and quite involved issues. In this article we reviewed some of the basic concepts with regards to R6B Zoning in NYC. This post does not assume to cover every possible issue or condition, but provide a general overview of the topic.


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 you can contact us directly.


Contact Fontan Architecture


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.

  • Josh F says:

    Hi Jorge, when a property straddles both R6B and R7A Zoning Districts is the FAR 2.0 or 4.0? Thanks!

  • Sammy F says:

    Hi Jorge :

    I am a RE broker. My client’s property lot measures 18.58 X 79.58, lot size 1520 sf and its zoning is C2-3/R6B. The existing building is 18X66, 2 Stories Brick plus full basement. Is there any air rights on it and what is the maximum buidable square footage ?


  • Sean Jolliff says:

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

  • Natasha Stuy says:


    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?

  • Mohammed Ahmed says:

    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 ?

  • Arsene Remy says:

    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?

    Arsene Remy

    • Why would you buy development rights and do a zoning lot merger, that’s going to take months at least, and cost money to make the deal more attractive? My advice is do yourself a favor and sell it as is.
      If you want me to do a zoning analysis to see if the zoning lot merger makes sense I can but I do not think it is a good idea.

  • ken says:

    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.

    • jorgefontan says:

      The minimum base height is 30 not 40. Also the base height is for front setbacks. The portion of the building with the lower setbacks is the rear of the building. Technically because it is a corner lot it is considered a side yard not a rear yard but either way setbacks are applying to the front of the building. In the image the front is on the left and the rear is on the right.
      If the image is confusing I will label front and back to clarify.

  • Clint Okayama says:

    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,

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