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Minneapolis’ plans to house the Third Police Precinct downtown are ‘not short-term’

City Council members advanced a plan to buy 57,000 additional square feet in a building they’re already redeveloping as a First Precinct headquarters.

Century Plaza
Minneapolis leaders are planning to house operations for both the First and Third police precincts in the Century Plaza building downtown. The location is three blocks outside the geographic boundaries of the Third Precinct.
MinnPost photo by Kyle Stokes

It’s basically official now: For the foreseeable future, Minneapolis police officers working in the southeastern quarter of the city will have their headquarters downtown – just outside the geographic boundaries of the actual Third Police Precinct, whose police station burned during the 2020 unrest.

Minneapolis City Council members gave their unanimous blessing Tuesday afternoon to the purchase of three additional floors of the Century Plaza building on South 12th Street. The city is already redeveloping the building’s first two floors to house the First Police Precinct, and will begin work redeveloping the newly-purchased space for the Third Precinct and for a few other city uses once the transaction is finalized.

Redeveloping the building for both police precincts – each of which will have their own, dedicated spaces – will cost an estimated $41 million. The Third Precinct portion of the project will cost roughly $25 million, though city officials hope to qualify for $11 million in reimbursement from federal emergency relief funds.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and Council President Andrea Jenkins first pitched this downtown “co-location” plan in July as a compromise. The proposal acknowledged widespread backlash against earlier proposals to rebuild at or near the site of the former Third Precinct headquarters, while also addressing the police department’s urgent need for purpose-built space. (To give an idea: the Third Precinct’s current temporary offices near City Hall only have one shower.)

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Minneapolis officials have not ruled out constructing a new headquarters within the Third Precinct’s geographic boundaries, though the City Council has since voted not to rebuild the burned-out former headquarters. Still, the plans coming together for the Century Plaza site paint the clearest, starkest picture yet that police personnel won’t have headquarters in southeast Minneapolis anytime soon.

If all goes according to plan, city staff said Third Precinct personnel will be able to occupy the Century Plaza space in January 2025, just a few months after the First Precinct moves in.

“The move to Century Plaza is not short-term,” said Barbara O’Brien, the city’s director of property services, echoing prior statements by Frey and Jenkins. “There are a lot of things that are still being understood about what policing will look like in five years, 10 years … so the Third Precinct will co-locate with the First Precinct at least for a period of time while we, the city, work through what do precincts really look like.”

The city has already purchased 38,000 square feet on Century Plaza’s lower level and first floor that will house the First Precinct as well as some Downtown Improvement District functions and the police’s Bicycle Rapid Response Team.

Now, the city is poised to purchase another 57,000 square feet in the building. On the third and fourth floors will be the Third Precinct’s interview rooms, offices, roll call space, storage, a command center and “community engagement spaces.” The city will also buy the building’s second floor and will decide how to fill the space in the coming months.

The city is also agreeing to double the number of parking spaces it’s leasing in the adjoined garage. The rest of the Century Plaza building is being developed as a hotel, but the city will own a portion of the building under a condo agreement. (The city will own its square footage in the building, but not the property itself.)

Council members must technically hear the proposal one final time at their regular meeting on Thursday before the proposal advances the mayor’s office for Frey’s signature.