City Council stalls $228 million downtown Lansing housing plan 

A $40 million grant to fund moving City Hall to the old Masonic Temple was also delayed


TUESDAY, Feb. 27 — The fate of a $228 million downtown Lansing housing development is uncertain after Lansing City Council Vice President Adam Hussain raised questions yesterday about using a $40 million state grant for that purpose. 

In its regular meeting last night, the Council shelved a resolution to accept the grant that the developers, led by Gentilozzi Real Estate, were hoping the city would pass on to them for their proposed 460-unit New Vision Lansing project that comprises three buildings, including a 25-story high rise on the Grand River. 

The Council also delayed action on accepting another $40 million state grant — this one to fund moving City Hall to the old Masonic Temple on Capital Avenue. 

The Council voted to set aside resolutions to accept both grants after City Attorney Jim Smiertka advised the Council that it also had to appropriate the grants if it accepted the money from the state. The two resolutions only sought to accept the grants without determining how the money would be spent. 

The next opportunity to accept the funds will be when the Council meets again on March 11. 

In the meantime, the questions raised by Hussain will remain important considerations as the body determines how to proceed. 

Developers Paul and John Gentilozzi presented revised designs for the New Vision Lansing to the Council at yesterday's Committee of the Whole meeting, after which the Council was scheduled to consider the measure to accept the state grant. 

Hussain, who chairs the Council’s Development and Planning Committee, asked why the developers hadn’t provided a financial breakdown for each of the project’s three properties. “I have to believe you have that information,” Hussain said. “Can that be conveyed to Council?”  

Paul Gentilozzi said they hadn’t included those breakdowns because the development team has entered into “some confidential situations” with the Michigan Economic Development Corp., one of the state outlets that would oversee the project’s use of the state’s funds.  

“We're still going through that process, but if you want to sign an NDA, which is an uncomfortable thing, I'm more than happy to let any Council person sit down and look at every detail of the financial,”  Gentilozzi said, adding that they’d recently sent an email to Council explaining that arrangement. 

Hussain confirmed that he responded to that email indicating that he wasn’t interested in doing so. 

“I want to see everything that you want me to sign an NDA for,” Hussain said. “I’d prefer to have the conversation as part of this presentation. But you’re telling me that I absolutely can’t?” 

“I'm not allowed to. The MEDC doesn't work that way,” Gentilozzi replied.  

“My understanding is you have to be able to prove transformational economic impact for the city that the project has to be positively impactful in terms of the state's fiscal position,” Hussain said. “You're taking calculated risks, so I'm assuming that we're leaning on some type of market analysis when you made the case to the state. Do you have those studies? What did you lean on?”  

“We had a number of sources, but one of them was certainly the study that DLI (Downtown Lansing, Inc.) had done,” John Gentilozzi replied. 

Hussain asked if they’d commissioned or utilized any economic impact studies during their planning process, to which Paul Gentilozzi said they hadn’t. 

“We can debate the merits of that. But I think that is important. When we're talking about this type of investment by the taxpayers of the city and the state, I would want to see an economic impact study,” Hussain said. 

In Hussain’s mind, he said, “Some of this still seems a little half-baked.” 

“When you went to the state, it sounded like to me you made a heck of a case — and it sounds like you leaned on our study — that we need housing, and that it can be transformational for the city. It sounds like the state agreed. But also, the way that they wrote this line item in the budget was very generic,” Hussain said.  

He was referring to a sentence in the 2024-’25 state budget legislation that said the Michigan State Housing Development Authority grant is to “increase new affordable or workforce housing units or implement corridor improvement activities.” 

“I'm just curious,” he added. “How did we get here with this developer on this development? Why would we not go through a potential bidding process? The reason I asked that is I'm not certain that the legislature contemplated us actually giving these dollars to this particular developer.” 

Mayor Andy Schor replied that he believes “the intention” was for the funds to go to New Vision Lansing, adding that the Legislature couldn’t make that clear because it can’t “write it specifically to one person.” 

“As recently as this weekend, I was told by Rep. Witwer where the intention of the dollars was for this project,” Schor said, referring to Angela Witwer, D-Delta Township, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee. 

“Sen. Anthony has told me that if anything were to happen where we weren’t to go through that project, she would want to know about it in advance,” added Schor, talking about Sarah Anthony, D-Lansing, who heads Senate Appropriations.  

“Should it not be approved, we would try to find something else to do with the $40 million before it expires,” Schor said, saying in that case the city would seek bids for how to use the funds. 

Later, in the formal meeting, the Council unanimously approved Hussain’s motion to place both resolutions on file, meaning they won’t be acted on in their current form. Instead, the Council must write new versions of the money’s use before the grants can be accepted.  


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