The City of Minneapolis has decided on a new home for the Third Precinct, putting an end to a long-running dispute between the City Council and the Mayor. The new site, located at 2633 Minnehaha Avenue, is just a few blocks from the previous precinct, which burned down during the 2020 uprising.
The new home was originally presented to the city in the summer of 2020, but protests pressured the owner of the building to withdraw the proposal. The owner – Lothenbach Properties – recently made it known that it was open to considering the sale again. Mayor Jacob Frey said it was an “exciting development,” and pitched the idea to the city council.
At a City Council meeting Thursday morning, progressive council members voiced concerns that the site was not considered before last week, and that the city had not done any community engagement around the decision before putting it up to a vote. The previous rounds of community engagement took months of public hearings and testimony.
“If a building is opening a year and a half from now, and we haven’t even made a plan to do the community engagement, much less figured out how It's going to happen or how much it's going to cost… I don’t see how that work is being turned around any faster than it was last time. It seems to me that we are more concerned with having some sort of finality to this issue than with making smart decisions that we are going to have to live with, and our communities will have to live with, for decades,” Councilmember Aisha Chughtai said.
Frey has been adamant about choosing a new site for the police precinct, demanding that the city council take action or give him the ability to do so. Among his previous proposals were co-housing the Third Precinct with the First Precinct in Century Plaza, and building a new site at 2600 MInnehaha Avenue. The City Council shut down both ideas over their cost; each totaled more than $20 million.
The mayor’s allies in the city council said that the construction of a new police facility is the first step to healing the trauma of the 2020 riots. Progressive members of the council disagreed.
“We’ve got folks in our community who feel really conflicted about how we’re providing this city service, and we have a long legacy of this service not being executed in the standard that our residents deserve it,” Councilmember Jeremiah Ellison said. “The discussion we’re having here… is not anybody looking to execute a personal vendetta against one of our city services, but it’s about whose humanity is getting centered.”
The city council approved an ordinance that would create an overview of how the building will contribute to the city’s Safe and Thriving Communities Service Plan, and what services are to be housed at the location.