Below is a short summary of a series of proposed 1-Family Row house Districts put together by CBM's zoning consultant, Paul Graziano:
1-Family Rowhouse Districts for New York City
For decades, civic organizations throughout New York City have requested the creation of 1-Family rowhouse districts to protect the character and substance of their neighborhoods.
Currently, there are "rowhouse districts" as defined by the Department of City Planning, but with the exception of the R4B zone (see below), they all allow apartment and multi-family buildings. These include the R3-2, R4 and R5 zones (known as General Residence Districts) which allow a great variety of housing types; the "contextual" R5B, R5D, R6B and R7B zones, which are mapped throughout the city and are described as rowhouse or "brownstone" districts.
The one exception to this rule is the R4B, which allows only 1 and 2-family houses, whether detached, semi-detached or attached rowhouses. This zone - the lowest, in terms of maximum height (24 feet) - also is only mapped in areas with rear yard alley-accessed parking, prohibiting curb cuts for front yard parking and only allowing landscaped or open space for those areas.
While the R4B is effective in terms of its zoning controls for certain neighborhoods, one of the biggest complaints from civic organizations that represent areas that have the R4B is that the buildings - which tend to be 18' wide and less than 1,700 sf - should nt be allowed to be converted into 2-family houses. In addition, there are many neighborhoods consisting of 1-family rowhouses which have "front-loading" driveways; these areas have never been eligible for the R4B and the consistent refusal of the Department of City Planning to consider creating any zone to respond to these areas has been a constant source of frustration.
Creating 1-family row house districts that respond to the needs of specific neighborhoods throughout New York City would benefit and enhance the character of those areas affected. There is no question that different densities and formats - whether front-loading or rear-accessed driveways - should be considered.
Below are simple draft proposals of what each of the 1-family row house districts should respond to:
This would be the lowest density 1-family rowhouse district with an R3 equivalent Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of 0.60. There would be a 21 foot front wall and a maximum height limit of 24 feet. R2B-1 would be for front-loading parking; R2B-2 would be for rear-accessed parking.
This would be a medium density 1-family rowhouse district, with an R4 equivalent FAR of 0.90. There would be a 21 foot front wall and a maximum height limit of 24 feet. R2C-1 would be for front-loading parking; R2C-2 would be for rear-accessed parking.
This would be a high density 1-family rowhouse district, with an R5 equivalent FAR of 1.35. There would be a 30 foot front wall and a maximum height limit of 33 feet. R2D-1 would be for front-loading parking; R2D-2 would be for rear-accessed parking.
Minimum lot width for all row houses would be 18 feet and 1,700 sf minimum lot area.
We are working with Paul to see how these districts might be applied toward downzoning some areas with out of context construction, especially in the Maurice Park area.