R-3 Zoning in Phoenix

6 Replies

Hello Friends -

I recently came across a 5-Unit property in Central PHX. The existing livable sq. ft. is 2,800 with the lot size being 19,500 sq ft. It is zoned for R-3 and there seems to be able space to add up to 4 more units.

Based on researching I’m seeing R-3 zoning should have no more than 5 units/acre, but I also see some resources stating it’s 12/acre.

Any experienced Multi-Family investors out there that have any feedback on how many units I may be able to get on the lot and if I can’t add any, what’s the process and cost of re-zoning in your experience?

Thank you!

@Tyler Clark there is a lot to consider when adding additional units. We are currently looking at a property, outside of Maricopa County that is also zoned R-3. We were able to gather some information from the City's Planning and Zoning page but ultimately called the City and spoke to the representative over planning and zoning. He gave us additional info to consider, such as required retention, landscape, outdoor living areas, parking space requirements etc. Now this is going to vary by location and city. Once you factor in all the additional requirements you may find that adding additional units may not be realistic even if its zoned for more. I haven't dealt with the City of Phoenix Planning and Zoning so unfortunately I can't offer any suggestions on communicating or working with them. Hopefully this provides a little more insight on aspects to consider.

Hi @Tyler Clark . I am in a design process for a fourplex in Phoenix on a R-3 zoned lot. The city requested to dedicate 10-ft of my lot to a Right-of-Way, which reduced my total buildable area. In addition, there are additional requirements like lot coverage-45%, 5% open space, retention (has to be outside of ROW), landscape setbacks (may be conflicting with building setbacks), parking requirements that will take up some additional buildable area. You really don't know what the City may allow you to build until you present them with a plan. Rezoning is time consuming, expensive and not-guaranteed. Most likely your lot was subdivided prior to May 1, 1998, therefore you need to refer to the second table B in Section 615.R-3 Multifamily Residence District.(in https://phoenix.municipal.code...). It's 14.5 units/acre. Let me know if you have additional questions.


@Tyler Clark

@Timur Galimzyanov

@Dallon Schultz

Could you please share feedback on your experiences with the city

I am in the same boat, trying to look into the options on adding couple of units to my property near 40th St & Thomas Rd in Phoenix.

It’s a legal non conformant property

Current zoning is R1-6, but has 2 SFH & a duplex on it. It was legal when it was built. City plans show all the 4 units.

Built in 1950

It’s on 0.4 Acre lot

Has enough room to add 2 units (but adding it will make it commercial)

Had preliminary meeting with city. They were talking about Rezoning to R-3 & Variance for setback exceptions (R-3 needs Civil engineering & Drain requirements needing excavations, landscaping)

Wanted to see if there is any way of adding the units while keeping it in R1-6 legal non-conformation and just getting a variance ?



@Ravi Kiran the dwelling density for R1-6 zoned properties is 5.3 DU/acre. As is, the number of DU you have exceeds requirements and the city may have hard burn allowing adding even more units. Rezoning is time consuming, expensive and not-guaranteed. Most likely you will have opposition from neighbors during the process, who don't want to see more traffic and more rentals in the area. The city takes neighbors comments very seriously.
With variances, there are are a few conditions that you have to meet, before they even consider your case. The following two conditions are really hard to meet (came straight from the application):

1. There are special circumstances or conditions applying to the land, building, or use of the subject property which do
not apply to other similar properties in the same zoning district. (Background: Special circumstances or conditions
would include, for example: an unusual lot size, shape, or topography. This condition is considered a property
hardship and it must be a condition relating to the property that is so unique it cannot be replicated on any other
similarly zoned land in the City.)
2. The special circumstances or conditions described above were not created by the applicant or owner. The property
hardship cannot be self-imposed. (Background: Owners include current and previous owners)

In case you are lucky and got all necessary approvals to rezone, you have to consider if you have enough space for landscaping, open space, parking zone and lot coverage. The lot coverage for R-3 is 45% and for R1-6 is 40%, which may make the addition impossible.

Hope this helps.