R7a Zoning NYC

R7A Zoning NYC, Multifamily Residential

(Last Updated On: October 23, 2018)

In this article we will be looking at R7A Zoning in NYC. This from a zoning analysis we did for a client. The client was looking to purchase 2 adjacent lots in an R7A Zoning District in Brooklyn, NYC. They wanted to know what the potential for development was on this property. R7A is a contextual zone within R7 Zoning. It will have different rules than the other R7 zones. We have another article on R7 Zoning if you are interested.


R7A Zoning Districts

Basic R7 Zoning Districts

  • R7-1 Zoning
  • R7-2 Zoning

R7 Contextual Districts


Most Commercial Zoning districts allow for residential use. Below are Commercial zones with R7-2 Residential Equivalents.


R7A Zoning

R7A is a medium density residential zoning district in New York City. A few examples of neighborhoods with R7A zoning would be Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Jackson Heights in Queens, and Harlem & East Village in  Manhattan. R7A districts have multifamily buildings about 7 or 8 stories high. Zoning districts that end in a letter are “Contextual Districts” and follow the rules of the Quality Housing Program.


R7A Zoning Analysis Example

This is an actual property we did a zoning analysis for. Check out another post we wrote to learn more about what goes into a Zoning Analysis.

The property consisted of 2 adjacent lots sharing a property line. The clients wanted to build 1 multifamily apartment building. This would require a lot merger which is very common. We would take the 2 lots each 25 x 100 and merge them into one tax lot.


Tax lot merger


What can you build on this R7A Zoning Lot?

The first step is to calculate the Floor Area Ratio or FAR. The FAR is a ratio between the lot square footage and the allowed building square footage. The Floor Area Ratio in R7A is 4. The lot area as we can see above is 100 feet x 50 feet or 5,000 square feet.

Lot Area is 50 X 100 or 5,000 sq ft

R7A FAR = 4 as per Zoning Code

Zoning Floor Area = Floor Area Ratio X Lot Area 

Zoning Floor Area = 4 X 5,000 sq ft

Zoning Floor Area = 20,000 square feet

We now know we can build a 20,000 square foot building on this property. This number is the zoning floor area. In actuality the building will be a little larger than that because there are certain zoning deductions you can take. We aren’t getting into that level of detail in this article.

How many apartments can we have?

To figure out the maximum number of apartments you can have is simple. You have to do a density calculation. The density factor for R7A zoning is 680. So you take the Zoning floor area and divide by the density factor. We use the term dwelling unit that means apartment.

R7a Density Factor = 680 As per Code

Zoning Floor Area = 20,000 sf

Number of Allowed Dwelling Units = Zoning Floor Area / Density Factor

Number of Allowed Dwelling Units = 20,000 sq ft / 680

Number of Allowed Dwelling Units = 29 units

On this property we can build a maximum of 29 apartments. We can always build less but cannot build more. If you prefer to do large apartments you can do that with a lower unit count.


R7A Building Bulk / Massing

Now that we know the square footage we can build we need to figure out the building envelope that is the massing or bulk. The building envelope is the general size and shape of the building. It is the 3 dimensional volume of the building.

Site Planning: Where on the lot can we build?

zoning districts have requirements for yards. We have a 30 foot required rear yard. So we cannot build in that area. Also we have to align with the neighbors buildings in the front. The neighbors are 5 feet back from the property line so we will match them. See diagram for the Building Site Plan. We can only build on an area 65 feet by 50 feet. This results in 3,250 square feet. that should easily give us a building with 6 or 7 stories.


R7A Site Plan


I hope this was helpful. If you want to discuss a specific project with an architect please feel free to Contact Fontan Architecture. We will be happy to help.


Author Jorge Fontan AIA

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


  • Truly Agarratt

    September 6, 2017 2:52 pm

    Hi Team,
    I currently live in a R7A zoned property, considering turning my 1family home into a multiple family house. My home is in East flatbush Brooklyn. Since you were part of this type of restructuring, can you give me a ballpark figure on the cost. My lot 20×100.

  • Seth

    March 13, 2018 6:51 pm

    Thank you for writing such a clear and concise explanation. Reading through your blog and would love to see a write up on zoning deduction. That would be super helpful. Thank you again!

      • Seth

        March 14, 2018 2:57 pm

        Thank you !!! This is awesome and very insightful and informative for architecture students to gain perspective on professional work. Would buy a book and promote if you ever consider going that format! Thank you again!

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