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What is the Floor Area Ratio?

In a hurry:


Apply it today:

  • Floor Area Ratio helps define the development intensity

  • It is the ratio of developable area to land area

  • The higher the FAR, the more development potential a property has


By the end of this episode you’ll learn:

  • What is Floor Area Ratio?

  • How is FAR used to encourage or limit development?

  • What are the different definitions of FAR?

  • Where can I find my city’s FAR?

Have a few minutes:

Floor Area Ratio is a metric used by municipalities to limit the development intensity of a parcel. FAR measures the relationship between developable area and land area.


For example, if a parcel of land measures 10,000 square feet and it is located in a zoning district with a FAR of 2.0x, then one can build up to 20,000 SqFt on the parcel (2.0 x 10,000).


The catch however, is different municipalities (whether it be the county, city, village, township, etc.) define this relationship in different ways. For example, does the FAR relate to gross building area or rentable area? Does the FAR include or exclude off-street parking? Is the FAR measured against the gross lot area, net lot area or even to the centerline of the nearest major roadway?


As in all cases, the devil is in the details.


Your municipality’s land development regulations will have defined terms, within which will define Floor Area Ratio and how to apply it.


FAR’s can range from less than 1.0x for low intensity development to over 20.0x for high intensity development. Chances are good, your municipality will have a different FAR for different areas in the city where planners may want to encourage or limit development. For example, the urban core or downtown will likely have a higher FAR than the suburban areas or outskirts.


Overall, FAR can help investors and developers understand not only how much development potential a given parcel has but also the areas slated for future growth.

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