Updated: 12:30 p.m.
The Minneapolis City Council voted Thursday to authorize staff to purchase a building to house the city’s 3rd Precinct and a community safety center. It’s located at 2633 Minnehaha Avenue South, just a few blocks away from the former precinct building on Lake Street.
Officers from the 3rd Precinct have been working out of a temporary space in downtown Minneapolis since 2020, when the precinct building on Lake Street was damaged during unrest following George Floyd’s killing by a then-Minneapolis police officer.
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey noted that the new precinct building has been a long time coming, and told the council that it’s time for the city to move forward with a more comprehensive public safety plan.
“2633 [Minnehaha Avenue] is both tens of millions of dollars less expensive than the alternative that's been proposed,” Frey said. “These are tens of millions of dollars that we can use to quite simply help people.”
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The council also passed a resolution 12-0 with Council Member Robin Wonsley abstaining that commits the city to locate other non-police public safety and social services in the building like violence interrupters, although newly appointed Officer of Community Safety Commissioner Todd Barnette declined earlier this week to specify which services would be housed there, arguing that the city needed to engage the community to find out what residents want.
The purchase price for the property is expected to be about $10 million dollars, with an additional $4 million dollars required to modify the building. The total cost for the new site with parking and community safety resources is estimated at up to $22.5 million dollars. That’s substantially cheaper than other options presented by the city in the past, including the construction of a new building on the same block or rehabilitation of the former precinct building on Lake Street and Minnehaha Avenue.
City staff estimated in a memo last week that the building will be ready for occupation in 12 to 18 months.
The 2633 Minnehaha site was previously explored as a location for the new precinct, but owners withdrew from lease negotiations after the property was vandalized. City staff say the owners recently offered the city the opportunity to buy the site outright.
The council was sharply divided, with five members voting against the purchase of the building. Council Members Linea Palmisano, Andrea Jenkins, Andrew Johnson, Jamal Osman, LaTrisha Vetaw and Michael Rainville voted for the proposal. Council Members Robin Wonsley, Elliott Payne, Aisha Chughtai, Jeremiah Ellison and Jason Chavez voted against the purchase of the building.
Opponents argued the city was hurrying the process, and that residents would be better served if the council took its time to vet all options and make the best choice for the long term.
Council Member Elliott Payne said he believes that the council hasn’t done enough to address trauma residents experienced from the killing of George Floyd and burning of the old police precinct building.
“I, too, share a vision around a comprehensive safety center,” Payne said. “I don’t know that this institution has the capacity to pull that off. I don’t know that this building isn't going to become just another fortress in our city.”
A separate proposal to explore locating the precinct and a community safety center at the site of a grain elevator at 3716 Cheatham Avenue South failed 8-5.
This is a developing story. More reporting to come.