Zoning Conversion in Jersey City - Converting a 2 fam into 3 fam

2 Replies | Jersey City, New Jersey

Hello,

I have a 2 family in Jersey City (zoned R-2). It has an above ground basement and meets all the requirements of a 3 family. The very next house is identical to my property and is a 3 family. Can anyone help me in understanding what the process of converting 2 family into a 3 family in Jersey City would be like? Appreciate any thoughts on this. Thanks.

Hey @Manshi M. --

I've never gone through with a conversion like this, but I've explored similar undertakings in the past. A few things to consider:

  • R-2 will help, but depending on your current lot, some characteristics may still be "non-conforming" -- i.e. parking, density, setbacks, etc... This won't necessary kill your case, but you may still need a variance
  • Fire Suppression - I believe sprinkler systems are required once you go above a 2-family. This is a big undertaking as it may requiring upsizing your current water main or installing a new one,  either of which is expensive. I've heard some instances where the City allows the homeowner to get away with a sprinkler in only the new unit, but I don't think you can bank on that.
  • Drawings/Permits - The City will require the new unit to be permitted, and may require a full set of drawings and plans. If anything in the past was done incorrectly, once they're in there for inspections, you may be obligated to fix old issues that you could have otherwise gotten away with ignoring.
  • NJ DCA Filing - Properties that are 3-units and above require a "green card" from the NJ DCA, which requires an initial registration + inspection as well as an inspection every 5 years. This can trigger other requirements/repairs.

By no means is this impossible, but it's not as easy as it sounds. Plenty of surprises can arise, but if you make it through to the other side, the additional rental income and appreciation are rewarding.

Good luck! Keep us posted if you decide to pursue this further.

I agree with @Ryan Goldfarb 100%. Definitely difficult to do and I've heard from some Jersey City people that the zoning board doesn't do those anymore but it's worth a shot especially if it's an above ground basement. Getting a good attorney who has connections could be very helpful too. Good luck!