Is 432 Park Avenue adding much to New York City’s density? That may seem like a trivial question, given that CIM Group and Macklowe Properties’ condominium project is a 1,396-foot-tall tower built on a relatively small lot. But Moses Gates, director of community planning and design at urban studies think tank Regional Plan Association, argues that density isn’t just about height – it’s about adding smaller units. And in this regard, the tallest building in the Western hemisphere falls short. “There has to be effective density, not just physical density,” Gates said on a panel discussion at the RPA’s annual summit Friday at the Waldorf Astoria hotel. 432 Park Avenue’s apartments, 126 in all, average 4,000 square feet, according to Gates, while apartments in Forest City Ratner’s 870-foot-tall rental tower at 8 Spruce Street, also known as the New York by Gehry building, average 750 square feet. In this case the shorter tower is adding more in density. “What if we changed tax and building codes to discourage extra large units?” he asked.
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