Three years later, the fate of the precinct site is still in limbo
On September 19, the Minneapolis City Council voted 11 to one to postpone discussions on what to do with the Third Precinct after council members balked at the idea of co-locating the Third Precinct with the First Precinct in downtown Minneapolis.
Since the Third Precinct was torched and evacuated days after George Floyd was murdered by former precinct officer Derek Chauvin, the city has struggled to find a suitable site. The city scuttled an idea for a temporary site at 26th and Minnehaha in 2020 after residents protested and some vandalized the building. Two other proposals presented earlier this year were both sidelined, with council members voting to never again locate the Third Precinct at its original site at Lake and Minnehaha.
Council President Andrea Jenkins floated a third idea, to locate the precinct with the under-construction First Precinct at the former Miller Vocational High School, across the street from the Minneapolis Convention Center. Councilmembers voted to study the idea and are now balking at the proposal because of the cost and the time the Third Precinct would be co-located at the site–10 years.
“Three floors, 200 parking spaces, ten years, $30 million. It’s not something I’m gonna vote for,” said outgoing Council President Lisa Goodman. “We’re holding up an owner of a building from making decisions about his plans moving forward [which include a hotel], and even more importantly, we are holding up building out the First Precinct.”
Councilmember Andrew Johnson agrees, insisting that Third Precinct officers need to be headquartered in the Third Precinct. “What we need is officers back in the Third Precinct. We need to identify a location there. I do not support $30 million, ten years, zero community engagement, by the way, around this,” said Johnson.
He added that he had identified yet another site in the precinct area that could be used as a precinct headquarters, but did not specify where. He and his aides did not respond to inquiries asking about the site.
Jenkins, who is in a tough reelection race against Soren Stevenson for her seat in November, abstained from voting. Before she voted, she expressed her frustration over not being a part of the conversations about moving the Third Precinct somewhere else.
“I don’t think I’ve been a part of any of these broad conversations. I’m not sure where that consensus was determined or how it was determined,” said Jenkins. “I fully believe that we need to come to some kind of resolution around the Third Precinct for our staff who are working in unsuitable conditions now.”
Meanwhile, as the city figures out what to do about the Third Precinct, its officers congregate at the City of Lakes building diagonally across from City Hall. The city says the building, completed in 1959 as part of the city’s larger urban renewal efforts in the Gateway district, is “inadequate” for police operations. The city wants to demolish the building for a development that could include a combination of housing, hotels, offices and parking.