When Uses Mix, Loading Berths Can Multiply

By Austin Regan

When  analyzing a building for Zoning compliance, it is important to review all subsections that may apply. Take the case of loading berths. ZR 36-60 is the section in zoning that addresses loading berth requirements in commercial districts. ZR 36-62 dictates how many berths are required. Much like required parking regulations, the number of berths required is dependent on the proposed use, the zoning district and the amount of zoning floor area devoted to the use.

Unlike parking requirements, there is another sub-section – ZR 36-63 – that only applies in certain cases when a building has more than one use. While its reach is limited, when it does apply ZR 36-63 can have a dramatic effect on building design.

ZR 36-63 is titled “Special Provisions for a Single Zoning Lot with Uses Subject to Different Loading Requirements.” For example – a building that may need to comply with this section would be an office building with a retail component. This type of building only needs to comply if it meets two criteria:

(a) The floor area of each separate use is less than the minimum floor area for which berths are required, and:

(b) The total floor area of all the uses for which berths are required is greater than the smallest amount of floor area for which berths are required for any of the uses individually.

If those two criteria are met then:

“…off-street loading berths shall be provided as if the total floor area of the uses for which berths are required were used for that use for which the most berths are required.”

Let’s apply this section to the example of an office building with a retail component. The building is located in a C2-6 district. The building has 92,000 SF of UG 6 office use and 7,000 SF of retail space. Per ZR 36-62, an office building does not need to provide a loading berth for the first 100,000 SF of floor area. For the next 200,000 SF of area one berth is required. Retail space in the same zoning district must provide a loading berth for floor area more than 25,000 SF. A second berth is required when 40,000 SF is reached and third is required for floor area between 40,000 – 100,000 SF.

So analyzing our building – the 92,000 SF of office floor area requires no loading berth. Neither does the 7,000 SF of retail. Because neither use requires a berth then it meets section (a) of ZR 36-63 and as per the section the more restrictive retail regulations apply. For the total floor area of 99,000 SF 3 loading berths are required.

The weirdness comes in when you adjust the floor areas a little. If we were to add another 9,000 SF to the office building for a total of 101,000 SF and kept the retail the exact same, only one loading berth would be required because the building would no longer meet the requirements of section (a).

Now we will take it to the extreme to the extreme. If we had a hotel that had 299,000 SF of floor area and commercial space of 24,000 SF for a total of 323,000 SF, ZR 36 -63 would not apply.  Proviso (a) is not met since ZR 36-62 requires that one berth be provided for the hotel use. The same section does not require any loading berth for a 24,00 SF commercial space. So the total amount of loading berths required for a building 3 times the size would still be only one.

We all know it can be dangerous to mix drinks or medicines. The same may apply to mixing uses in a building.