Racing the clock on downtown growth

It takes a second to blink off the noonday glare of downtown Lansing and adjust to the butterscotch glow of the historic Atrium Building on Washington Square.

In that blink, Paul Gentilozzi zoomed a few laps ahead of me.

“This is the coolest building in Lansing,” he shouted, shrinking into a white dot. How does he move so fast?

Leaving a storied career in auto racing behind, Gentilozzi has settled into the real estate and development business he and his sons, John and Tony, have built over the past five decades.

No, not “settled.” At 73, he’s still a body in motion, the point man for the most ambitious project Lansing’s downtown has seen in decades.

A $215 million package of three major projects, announced earlier this month, promises to bring 450 units of “workforce” housing (not luxury condos) to a struggling downtown, all but abandoned by the state workers that once filled the stores and restaurants before COVID.

The centerpiece of New Vision Lansing is Tower on Grand, a 25-story glass tower on Grand Avenue, just north of the Grand Tower office building. The tower would be Lansing’s tallest building, with 300 housing units and a rooftop deck with a raft of amenities.

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