Luther Seminary has terminated negotiations with Ramsey County to move an emergency homeless shelter from an aging county building in downtown St. Paul to a former dorm on its campus in the St. Anthony Park neighborhood.

"It has become clear in recent days that moving forward with Safe Space Shelter is not a constructive path for the seminary or the neighborhood at this time," Heidi Droegemueller, vice president for Luther Seminary relations, said in a statement Monday. A Tuesday town hall about the proposed move has been canceled.

The Safe Space Shelter, in a government building on Kellogg Boulevard in downtown St. Paul, is a partnership between the nonprofit Model Cities and Ramsey County. The overnight emergency shelter serves about 2,000 adults annually.

It's been looking for a new home for months because Ramsey County plans to sell the building. The move to Stub Hall, a vacant dorm on Luther's campus, would have occurred this summer. Kizzy Downie, the CEO of Model Cities, said at a news conference Monday the plan was to house Safe Space at Luther while fundraising to find a forever home.

The county previously leased Stub Hall as a temporary shelter for women and couples during the pandemic between December 2020 and June 2022. Many neighborhood residents supported that move.

"During that time, the neighborhood really extended a lot of welcome to residents of the shelter, and this time around there was just a lot of concern voiced, and the level of that concern really made seminary leadership reevaluate whether this was the most productive path forward," said Rachel Farris, a spokesperson for Luther Seminary. She said that while the proposal aligned with the seminary's values, it was not central to its mission of providing theological education.

Ramsey County Board Chair Trista Martinson said she was devastated by the news. She said the county hoped the move would help provide dignified shelter for people in crisis.

"It's a community that almost every neighbor has an 'all are welcome' sign in their yard," she said.

Martinson, who represents the neighborhood, said her office received hundreds of calls and emails, many from St. Anthony Park residents concerned about having the shelter in their neighborhood.

"It's a real concern, if you don't understand," she said. "Which is why we were hoping that with a town hall, so we could explain. We've learned a lot over the last five years about how it works, how it can work, what we need to do to provide safety and security."

In online forums, neighbors also took issue with what they characterized as a lack of community input earlier in the process. And in an email to the Star Tribune, resident Kristina Halvorson said some neighbors also have concerns about whether such a facility would be allowed under St. Paul city code.

Martinson said the old county services building is not suitable — and is too costly — to use as an emergency shelter. She said it's not yet clear what the end of the plan to move to St. Anthony Park means for the timeline of the building's sale.

Martinson said if community members have ideas for spaces that could serve as emergency shelters in St. Paul or its first-ring suburbs, she'll take them. "Contact our office," she said. "We're kind of out of options, and the need continues to grow every single day."

Luther plans to sell the property where Stub Hall is located, the seminary said. It will remain vacant in the meantime.