The existing zoning of the Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill neighborhoods has been in place since the New York City Zoning Resolution was adopted in 1961. Though it does take into account the wide variety of housing types and uses in the area, the existing zoning is not representative of the current development patterns. As seen on the existing zoning map, most of the area closest to Forest Park, south of Park Lane South is zoned with low-density, single-family detached districts (R1-2 and R2). Two areas are zoned with a medium-density residential district that allows tower developments of 13 to 17 stories (R7-1): the first is found along 118th Street from Metropolitan Avenue down to 84th Avenue and the second is found along Austin Street near the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) station. The remainder of the residentially zoned portions of the study area is zoned R5 (general residence district) with pockets of R3-1 (one- or two-family detached and semi-detached homes).
The Richmond Hill area between 101st Street, Myrtle Avenue, and Jamaica Avenue, is zoned R3-1 and is developed with detached one- and two-family homes. South of Jamaica Avenue and between the two LIRR rail lines in Richmond Hill East, there is an area zoned M1-1 that is developed with transportation and light industrial uses directly adjacent to the rail and with one- and two-family homes on the interior blocks.
Commercial activity is concentrated along Queens Boulevard, on Lefferts Boulevard near the LIRR station, on Metropolitan Avenue at 118th Street, in the southeast corner where Hillside and Metropolitan Avenues intersect, and along Jamaica Avenue.
To revise the existing zoning in Kew Gardens and Richmond Hill, the Department of City Planning is proposing a fine-grained, contextual zoning plan that has four objectives:
- Prevent out-of-character development in areas developed primarily with one- and two-family residences;
- Reinforce the built conditions in areas developed with multi-family buildings;
- Match zoning to reflect area uses; and
- Direct residential and mixed-use growth to areas that can most support it.
Specific proposed zoning district changes are discussed below by objective and neighborhood. Please see the proposed
zoning map for a depiction of the new zoning district boundaries.
1. The proposed zoning will prevent out-of-character development in areas developed primarily with one- and two-family residences:
- Kew Gardens
- • In the center of Kew Gardens, an area bounded by 82 nd Avenue, Austin Street, Cuthbert Road and Grenfell Street would be changed to a proposed R4-1 district. These blocks are developed with a mix of detached and semi-detached buildings, as well as commercial and mixed-use buildings that serve the Kew Gardens LIRR stop and the Kew Gardens neighborhood. The proposed R4-1 district has a maximum FAR of 0.9 and allows detached and semi-detached single and two family housing. The R4-1 district would also deter tower-development on this stretch of Lefferts Boulevard. This proposed zone would replace existing R2 and R7-1 zoning districts.
• An area south of Kew Gardens Road and north of Hillside Avenue and an area south of Metropolitan Avenue and north of Jamaica Avenue would be changed to R4-1 districts. The blocks in this area have been developed predominately with detached and semi-detached one- and two-family residences on narrow lots. To ensure that new developments will continue to be compatible with the scale of existing buildings, the R4-1 district is proposed for these blocks in place of the existing R5 zoning district.
• The R3-1 districts on both sides of Metropolitan Avenue east of Lefferts Boulevard would be changed to R4A districts. The R4A zoning would preserve the current one- and two-family detached character currently found in the area.
• Directly south of Maple Grove Cemetery and west of the Van Wyck Expressway, several blocks would be changed to an R4A district. The maximum FAR allowed in this sub-area would decrease from 1.25 to 0.9 and only one- and two-family detached housing will be allowed. These new regulations closely mirror the current housing stock in the area and replace the existing R5 zoning district.
• The existing R2 district that lies south of Park Lane South and north of Metropolitan Avenue would be expanded to take in portions of several blocks of existing R5 and R7-1 districts. These lots are developed with single-family, detached houses and the R2 district better matches this housing type.
• The area along Kew Gardens Road near Union Turnpike currently zoned R5 would be eliminated and the existing adjacent R2 and C4-4 districts would be extended to better reflect existing development patterns.
- Richmond Hill
- • The 23 blocks south of 85th Avenue and east of 104th Street would be changed to a contextual R3X district and the 11 blocks south of Park Lane South and east of 102nd Street would be changed to an R4A district to keep future development in context with the current built environment. The proposed R3X allows the same maximum FAR of 0.6 as the current R3-1 district, but it allows only one- and two-family detached residences, which would help the area maintain its current characteristic of large houses placed on large lots. The proposed R4A district has a higher maximum FAR of 0.9, but brings more of the residences into compliance by allowing detached housing on smaller, narrower lots than the current R3-1 zoning district.
Zoning changes would be made to reinforce the current built conditions in multi-family residence districts:
- Kew Gardens
The Lefferts Boulevard corridor from the LIRR tracks south to Hillside Avenue and the south side of Metropolitan Avenue east of Lefferts Boulevard would be changed to an R6B district. The proposed R6B district is contextual and the maximum allowable FAR of 2.0 for this zone, as well as the maximum building height of 50 feet, would keep future development with the current built conditions and over three-quarters of the existing buildings will now have a complying FAR. The R6B district would replace the existing R5 and R7-1districts.
• Two areas developed primarily with six- and seven-story apartment buildings would be changed from R7-1 to R7A districts. The first area is located south of Metropolitan Avenue and north of 85th Avenue and the other area is located east of Cuthbert Road, north of 125th Street and west of Talbot Street. The proposed contextual R7A district would be more compatible with the older apartment buildings located in the sub-area as the Quality Housing Program would be mandatory and the allowable FAR would increase to 4.0, while the maximum height would be limited to 80 feet.
- Richmond Hill
To better match the existing development in the downtown Richmond Hill area at Hillside and Myrtle Avenues, a contextual R6B district north and west of Hillside Avenue and a contextual R6A district south and east of Hillside Avenue are proposed. These districts will replace the existing R5 and R3-1 districts.
• The blocks west of 102nd Street, north of Jamaica Avenue and south of 85th Road would be changed to an R4 district. The proposed R4 district would increase residential FAR from 0.6 in the current R3-1 district to 0.9 (or 1.35 FAR if R4 infill housing regulations are used). As most of the current housing stock is attached or semi-detached, the R4 district is being proposed and 99 percent of the residences will now conform to the allowable FAR.
3. The proposed zoning will better match the zoning district to current use:
- Western Richmond Hill
- • To better fit the current uses found in the area, the single-block M1-1 district south of Forest Park and west of 101st Street would be changed to an R6A district. All of the buildings on this block would become conforming. The R6A is a contextual district with an FAR of 3.0 and a maximum building height of 70 feet. Also, the existing C8-1 district on Jamaica Avenue west of 102nd Street would be expanded to include light industrial uses in the adjacent R3-1 district while excluding non-industrial uses.
- Eastern Richmond Hill
- • Approximately eight blocks located in an M1-1 district south of Jamaica Avenue would be changed to an R5 district since this area is developed mostly with attached homes, though there are detached, semi-detached, and multi-unit residences. Approximately 95 percent of the buildings in this area are currently residential and the proposed R5 district will bring them into conformance.
The shopping center north of Hillside Avenue east of 126th Street that is presently zoned M1-1 would also be changed to an R5 district, but with a C1-3 commercial overlay to reflect its local retail character.
4. Commercial and residential growth will be directed to areas that can most support it:
- Kew Gardens
Fourteen full and partial blocks, now zoned M1-1, C8-1, R5 and R4, located east of the LIRR tracks from Hillside to Jamaica Avenues, including portions of blocks between the Van Wyck Expressway and 134th Street and Jamaica Avenue and 89th Avenue, would be changed to an R6 district. The area is developed with both residential and commercial uses.The proposed R6 zoning district, with an FAR of 2.43, would recognize the diverse housing types in the area and would allow for higher density development near mass transit nodes. A proposed C2-3 commercial overlay on (name streets) would recognize the commercial character of those blocks and would allow new commercial uses to serve the area.
Both the Jamaica Avenue corridor and the Metropolitan Avenue, Hillside Avenue and Kew Gardens Road area are well served by public transportation. The elevated J/Z subway runs along Jamaica Avenue and the E subway train has a stop at the Van Wyck Expressway and Jamaica Avenue. Numerous bus lines serve the area as well.
- Richmond Hill
The proposed zone for the Jamaica Avenue corridor from 102nd Street to 130th Street is an R6A zone with a C2-4 commercial overlay. The proposed R6A District would increase allowable FAR to 3.0 in all areas and have a maximum height of 70 feet for all buildings. The R6A zoning along with the commercial overlay, would encourage new, higher density residential developments and mixed-use buildings along Jamaica Avenue that would better reinforce its traditional development patterns than the existing R3-1, R5, and M1-1 districts with C1-2 and C2-2 commercial overlays.
Commercial Overlay Changes
Most of the existing commercial overlays in the study area would be decreased in depth from 150 feet to 100 feet to keep commercial uses from encroaching on mid-block residential uses. Along Jamaica Avenue the commercial overlays will be changed from C1-2 and C2-2 overlays to C2-4 overlays. Commercial overlays on the Metropolitan Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard corridors would be changed from C1-2 to C1-3. The area immediately surrounding the Hillside Avenue, Metropolitan Avenue and Kew Gardens Road triangle will have a change in commercial overlays from a C2-2 to a C2-3. All of the commercial overlays reduce the parking requirement as these three portions of the study area are well served by the MTA subway system and the LIRR.
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District Comparison Chart.
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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.