The New Text Amendment – Plugging in the New Numbers

By Austin Regan

For buildings currently in construction or the approval process, City Planning’s massive new amendment to the Zoning Resolution has not caused as much anxiety as previous text changes have. This is mainly because, unlike many previous amendments, the purpose of  “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” amendment was not to “down zone” or reduce bulk and density. So unlike previous major amendments, the vast majority of projects under DOB review or under construction are not suddenly non-compliant because of the changes.

However, even if the latest zoning change has no ill effect on your building design, many projects must still address the changes. Per ZR 11-331, unless foundations are 100% complete before the effective date of an amendment (3/22/16 in this case) the new building must comply with the new zoning.

As stated above, there is a high likelihood the previously designed building does. There is also a high likelihood that the building’s zoning analysis is out of date. Why? Because this text change involved large scale deletion and renumbering of zoning sections. For instance, ZR 23-145, which formerly had the FAR and lot coverage requirements for all Quality Housing buildings has been deleted. The new section is ZR 23-153. The actual FAR numbers do not appeared to have changed but now the zoning analysis is inaccurate. Article II, Chapter 8 – Quality Housing provisions – has seen all it’s numbers changed!

Buildings currently under review at DOB must redo their analysis to reflect these changes as well as those buildings under construction where foundations have not yet been completed. Fortunately, the exercise of redoing the zoning analysis – while annoying and time consuming – appears to be basically a bookkeeping exercise and will not involve a project’s redesign.