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Projects & Proposals > Brooklyn > Boerum Hill Printer Friendly Version
Boerum Hill Rezoning - Approval!
Existing Context & Zoning
Overview | Existing Context & Zoning | Proposed Zoning | Public Review

Neighborhood Character
Boerum Hill is a predominantly residential neighborhood characterized by 3- and 4-story rowhouses. Between Smith and Court streets and near 3rd Avenue are a number of larger 4- and 5-story multi-family apartment buildings and loft buildings. Smith and Court streets, the local retail corridors, are characterized largely by 3- and 4-story mixed use buildings that contain ground floor commercial and community facility uses with residential above.

The Boerum Hill rezoning area is part of the area formerly known as both South Brooklyn and Gowanus. In the 1960s, this section of South Brooklyn was named after the Boerum family, members of which were prominent area land owners in the eighteenth century. The Boerum family also gave its name to Boerum Place in the western portion of the rezoning area. Significant development in the rezoning area started in the 1840s, following the incorporation of the City of Brooklyn in 1834 and the opening of the South Ferry route from Manhattan to Atlantic Avenue in 1836. Development picked up later in the 19th Century, and many of the rowhouses in the area date to the late 1860s and early 1870s. In the early 20th Century, larger apartment buildings, warehouses, factories and garages were built in the neighborhood, particularly between Smith and Court Streets and near 3rd Avenue. By the 1960s, a number of the neighborhood’s rowhouses had been converted into boarding houses and multi- family buildings. More recent renovations have turned those buildings back into one to three family buildings, which are the predominant land use today.

Rowhouses on Bergen Street
Rowhouses on Bergen Street
Rowhouses on Pacific Street
Rowhouses on Pacific Street

The PDF Document Boerum Hill Historic District, covering seven full and partial blocks in the middle of the neighborhood, was designated in 1973. In the last fifteen years, the Boerum Hill neighborhood has seen significant investment in rehabilitating the existing housing stock and with new businesses moving into the neighborhood’s commercial corridors. During this period, Smith and Court streets and Atlantic Avenue, just north of the rezoning area, became shopping and eating destinations.

The F and G subway lines run underneath Smith Street and stop at the Bergen Street Station in the heart of the study area. The Atlantic Avenue-Pacific Street station, with entrances near the study area at 4th Avenue and Pacific Street, provides service to nine subway lines and the Long Island Railroad. Bus service is provided by the B57 bus on Smith and Court Streets, the B65 bus on Bergen Street and Atlantic Avenue, and the B103 bus on 3rd and 4th Avenues. Recent development in Boerum Hill has consisted of residential, community facility and mixed use structures, and has included both additions to existing buildings and construction of new buildings.Recent development under the existing R6 zoning regulations has produced buildings that are out of scale or character with the rowhouses in the neighborhood. The proposed action would map contextual zoning districts that would establish height and bulk regulations in order to ensure that future development reflects the character of the area, while allowing for appropriate development on the few vacant and underdeveloped sites in the area.

The proposed action would also refine commercial overlays on many of the thoroughfares to more closely tailor them to the existing distribution of commercial uses, bring existing establishments into conformance, and prevent the spread of commercial uses onto residential midblocks where such uses would threaten existing character.

Boerum Hill Historic District and Rezoning Area
PDF Document View a larger image

Existing Context and Zoning
Rowhouses on Bond Street, Existing R6, Proposed R6B
Residential Rowhouse Context -Rowhouses on Bond Street, Existing R6, Proposed R6B
Rowhouses on Dean Street, Existing R6, Proposed R6B
Residential Rowhouse Context -
Rowhouses on Dean Street,
Existing R6, Proposed R6B
Community Facility on Bergen Street, Existing R6, Proposed R6A/C2-4
Community Facilities Context -
Community Facility on Bergen Street, Existing R6, Proposed R6A/C2-4
Mixed Use on Court Street,
Existing R6/C2-3, Proposed R6A/C2-4
Commercial Corridors -
Mixed Use on Court Street,
Existing R6/C2-3, Proposed R6A/C2-4

The study area is currently zoned R6, with the exception of the area between 3rd and 4th Avenues, which is zoned R7B. C1-3 and C2-3 commercial overlays are also mapped along Smith Street, Court Street and parts of Pacific Street, Hoyt Street and Boerum Place. PDF Document View the zoning comparison chart.

The R6 zoning district, which dates to 1961, currently covers all or part of the 31 blocks in the rezoning area (93% of the rezoning area). Residential and community facility uses (Use Groups 1-4) are permitted in R6 zoning districts, with no height limits and a maximum floor area ratio (FAR) of 2.43 for residential uses and 4.8 for buildings containing community facility uses. Building envelopes for buildings developed under the height factor have no set height limit and are regulated by the sky exposure plane. Off-street parking is required for 70% of the dwelling units. Developers may utilize the optional Quality Housing program which permits up to 2.2 FAR with a maximum building height of 55 feet on narrow streets (75 feet in width or less), and up to 3.0 FAR with a height limit of 70 feet on wide streets (greater than 75 feet in width). Under Quality Housing regulations off-street parking is required for 50% of the dwelling units. R6 parking regulations allow developments that would be required to provide five or fewer parking spaces to waive parking requirements.

The R7B zoning district is mapped on parts of five blocks between 3rd and 4th Avenues: both sides of St. Mark’s Place, Pacific Street and Dean Street (7% of the rezoning area.) These blocks are part of a larger area that was rezoned in 1991 as part of the Park Slope North rezoning. R7B is a typical row house district that includes height limits and street wall lineup provisions to ensure new buildings are consistent with the scale of the existing built context. R7B permits residential and community facility uses to a maximum FAR of 3.0. Building heights are limited to 60 feet at the street, with a 70 foot maximum building height after a setback (10 feet on a wide street, 15 feet on a narrow street). New development in the R7B district is required to line up with adjacent structures to maintain the existing street wall characteristics. New multifamily residences must provide one off-street parking space for 50% of dwelling units, which may be waived if 5 or fewer spaces would be required.

C1-3 and C2-3 Commercial Overlays
C2-3 commercial overlays are currently mapped within 150 feet of Court Street, as well as along portions of Pacific Street and Boerum Place. C1-3 commercial overlays are mapped within 150 feet of Smith Street south of Pacific Street, and along one block of Hoyt Street. Together, these commercial overlays cover portions of 13 blocks. All of the commercial overlays date to 1961, with the exception of the C2-3 district along Boerum Place between Pacific and Dean Streets, which was mapped in 1987. C1 overlays permit basic small-scale retail shops and offices (Use Groups 1-6). C2 overlays permit a slightly broader range of service uses, such as funeral homes and repair shops (Use Groups 1-9 and 14). C1 and C2 overlays have a maximum FAR of 2.0 when mapped in R6 districts, though commercial uses are limited to the first floor when residences are located above. Most commercial uses within C1-3 and C2-3 overlays are required to provide one off-street parking space for each 400 square feet of commercial space, with a waiver for uses requiring less than 25 spaces.

Boerum Hill Existing Zoning Map
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Brief explanations of terms in green italics can be viewed by clicking on the term. Words and phrases followed by an asterisk (*) are defined terms in the Zoning Resolution, primarily in Section 12-10. Consult the Zoning Resolution for the official and legally binding definitions of these words and phrases.
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