Incentive Zoning + Transfer of development rights

from NYC Department of city planning

Incentive Zoning provides a bonus, usually in the form of additional floor area, in exchange for the provision of a public amenity or affordable housing. There are incentive bonuses for the provision of :
- public plazas (privately owned public spaces),
- visual or performing arts spaces,
- subway improvements,
- theater preservation,
- FRESH food stores
- affordable housing

Transfer of development rights (TDR)
A TDR allows for the transfer of unused development rights from one zoning lot to another in limited circumstances, usually to promote the preservation of historic build­ings, open space or unique cultural resources. For such purposes, a TDR may be permitted where the transfer could not be accomplished through a zon­ing lot merger. In the case of a landmark building, for example, a transfer may be made by CPC special permit from the zoning lot containing the designated landmark to an adjacent zoning lot or one that is directly across a street or, for a corner lot, another corner lot on the same intersection.

A zoning lot merger is the joining of two or more adjacent zoning lots into one new zoning lot. Unused development rights may be shifted from one lot to an­other, as-of-right, only through a zoning lot merger.

Other cities
Seattle :
commercial building : to receive the first bonus increment of FAR above the base, developers must agree to build a LEED Silver certified structure. After that, developers are able to acquire additional square footage, up to a maximum established by the code, by participating in a combination bonus/TDR options. 75 percent of the additional floor area must be earned through affordable housing/child care options, and the remaining 25 percent through other menu options as shown below.
residential building : ; developers may build to 290'. Between 85’ and 290', developers are able to acquire additional square footage, to a maximum established by code, by participating in a bonus program. They can also build higher than 290' (up to a maximum height of 400') by participating in a bonus program. To participate in the program, developers must first commit to building a LEED Silver certified structure. Developers can either build affordable housing on site as part of the bonus program or contribute to an affordable housing fund at a certain cost per square foot.

Boston : Developers of any projects with over 100,000 square feet of gross floor area occupied by commercial, institutional, or hotel uses must contribute $7.87 per additional square foot to an affordable housing fund. 10 to 20 percent of the money must be used near the development. Developers may build the affordable housing if the construction cost is equal to or greater than the housing contribution.

Chicago : A downtown density bonus program offers residential developers bonus square footage in exchange for providing affordable housing on-site or making a contribution to an affordable housing fund. Result: 21 developers have participated, and all but one opted to pay fees rather than units. The program has resulted in commitments of $17.6 million in funding towards affordable housing

http://www.seattle.gov/planningcommission/docs/SPC_IncZon.pdf

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