Nearly three years after Minneapolis' Third Precinct police station was torched by people enraged at the murder of George Floyd, the potential sites for a new facility have been narrowed to two, the city announced Wednesday.
One option is to renovate and expand the vacant existing building at 3000 Minnehaha Av. for as much as $12 million. The second option is to build a new facility on a vacant city-owned lot at 2600 Minnehaha for roughly twice that cost, city officials said.
Community meetings are planned to discuss the options.
In May 2020, the Third Precinct station at Minnehaha and Lake Street was surrounded and overrun by people protesting Floyd's murder under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer who operated out of the facility. Several have been sentenced to prison in connection with the mayhem at the station, including a far-right activist from Texas.
The building ablaze became a symbol of the uprising that followed Floyd's killing — and the boarded-up hulk that remains stands as a constant reminder.
The lack of a replacement is also a hole in the city's ability to protect the public, police have complained. Since January 2021, Third Precinct officers have operated out of a building downtown, hampering their response times to the southeastern quadrant of the city they serve. Residents in the area, meanwhile, have no nearby police station to seek help, and business owners complain that the vacant building is a blight on the neighborhood.
The city identified the two locations after a survey of suitable sites that began in July 2020 and continued through December 2022.
"Identifying two viable locations for the 3rd Precinct building has been an enterprise-wide effort, and I'm grateful to our staff who have worked around the clock to produce a thorough analysis for neighbors to consider," Mayor Jacob Frey said in a statement.
Both the community and the police have grappled with the future of the station for some time.
In September 2020, plans to lease a building several blocks away were abandoned amid neighborhood opposition. In an interview last fall, Police Chief Brian O'Hara told the Star Tribune that the vacant building is a point of stress for many in the neighborhood.
"It's a reminder of what happened and the trauma that's associated with it. To some people, it's almost triggering," O'Hara said. "The same is true of police officers who worked in that precinct. … That is a fresh wound."
When pressed at community meetings about what the department should do with the old precinct, O'Hara has stood firm that it isn't the department's call, but rather city leaders in concert with residents of the precinct.
The city has released building renderings that they say aren't final designs but are "meant to help with conversations about potential locations."
The rendering of the existing site shows a rehabbed version of the current vacant building, with a new garden, main entry and parking ramp.
The building, constructed in 1985 and expanded in 2005, was damaged during the 2020 riots but remains structurally sound, according to a city-commissioned February 2021 analysis by engineering firm Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates. A spokesman for the city said the cost for this option could reach up to $12 million.
The rendering of the new site envisions a five-story structure: a tower overlooking Minnehaha Avenue atop a glass-walled atrium, with underground parking.
A city spokesman said erecting a new building could cost between $22 million and $26 million.
What's the timeline?
City officials offered no estimate Wednesday for when police might move into a new facility.
In May, city staff will submit a report to Frey and the City Council analyzing the community's feedback on the two possible locations.
On Wednesday, the city released the following schedule of public meetings:
- Business owner session: 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 11 at the Hook and Ladder Theater & Lounge, 3010 Minnehaha Av.
- General public session: 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 13 at Midtown Global Market, 920 E. Lake St.
- General public session: 10 a.m.-noon April 15 at Roosevelt High School, 4029 S. 28th Av.
- General public session: 6:30-8:30 p.m. April 19. Location to be determined.
The plan to involve the community in the discussion includes the city, DeYoung Consulting and the Longfellow Community Council.
In addition to the public meetings, next week the city plans to post an online survey on a website it has developed for the Third Precinct's future: MinneapolisMN.gov/3rd-precinct-building.
Staff writer Liz Sawyer contributed to this report.