Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the City Council have moved out of City Hall.

For a year, at least.

The temporary move, to a nearby city building downtown, creates logistical challenges for the highest levels of city government, and might lead to confusion for people seeking to attend public meetings or visit their elected officials.

Much of City Hall will remain open to the public, including the spacious rotunda with its distinctive "Father of Waters" sculpture. But key areas, including the third floor and council chambers, will be closed for renovations.

During the winter holiday break, Frey, the 13 council members and scores of public servants packed up offices on two floors of the rose granite seat of city government. Then, movers shuttled boxes across the intersection of S. 4th Street and 3rd Avenue S. to a city-owned building known as the "old Public Service Center" — not to be confused with the new Public Service Building.

But it's easy to get confused. Even Google is confused.

Which building?

Here's what most members of the public need to know.

For most of next year, the offices of the mayor, City Council and city clerk, as well as a temporary council chambers, will be located in a tired 1950s-era building — the "old Public Service Center" at 250 S. 4th St. Put that address — but just that address — into into any mapping software, and it will get you there.

Temporary offices for the City Council and city clerk will be on the first floor, council chambers on the third, and the mayor and most of his cabinet on the fifth floor.

The confusion comes when you use the phrase "Public Service Center." Search engines, mapping programs, and even some parts of the city's own website think you're looking for the Public Service Building, a glass-walled building at 505 4th Av. S. that opened to the public in 2021. That's where members of the public can meet with city staff in person to review permits, pay fees, pull police reports and navigate other parts of the city bureaucracy in the same place. (And the name of that place inside that building: the "Service Center.") Nothing is changing with that facility.

Another potential bit of confusion: If you want to mail something to folks traditionally housed in City Hall, such as your council member or the mayor, keep using the City Hall mailing address: 350 S. 5th St., Minneapolis, MN 55415. Phone numbers and email addresses are unchanged.

And yet one more possible pitfall: Not every public meeting will be held in the 1950s building, at least not at first. Because work on the makeshift council chambers isn't expected to be completed right away, the City Council's first meeting of 2024, on Jan. 8, will actually be held in the Public Service Building (that's the new glass-facaded one). To be sure where a public meeting is being held, check the city's Legislative Information Management System online.

What renovations?

The renovations to various parts of City Hall, which was built between 1887 and 1906 and houses some Hennepin County operations as well, have been going on for several years, mostly out of public view.

The outward appearance and essence of the Romanesque revival building, which sits on the National Register of Historic Places, has remained unchanged. But inside the hollow-square-shaped structure, interior office areas have been gutted, fitted with updated infrastructure and redesigned on several lower floors, providing modern accommodations for workers in departments ranging from fire to public works. In 2021, all phases of the renovations were projected to cost about $32.5 million, paid for by the Municipal Building Commission, an entity that operates City Hall and is overseen by elected officials from the city and county.

The current phase of work will cover the third floor and a mezzanine level constructed over a portion of the third floor in the 1940s and 1950s.

The floor plan of the third floor will change. The mayor's office will move to the opposite corner of the building from council chambers, allowing the offices of council members and the city clerk to flank the chambers.

The full reconstruction of the council offices will also eliminate a quirk that has subtly plagued the council for years: The current offices aren't the same size, creating the potential for office-space envy among equally elected council members. The new footprint will eliminate those disparities, several council members have said, although their offices will be physically split into two clusters by the council chambers, potentially making it less convenient to collaborate.