Following a near-unanimous vote by the City Council on Tuesday, the future of Minneapolis' Third Precinct police station is, once again, totally unclear.
The latest twist: a possible downtown location now seems to be off the table.
Meeting as a committee Tuesday, council members voted overwhelmingly to take no action on the vexing challenge of finding a new headquarters for the police officers who serve much of south Minneapolis. Those officers were formerly stationed at the Lake Street building ransacked and torched after George Floyd was murdered in 2020, and have been without a permanent home since.
On Tuesday, it became clear that a solution that had recently gained momentum — moving the Third Precinct to Century Plaza on the outskirts of downtown — has lost support.
The council's nonaction came a day after Mayor Jacob Frey sent a sternly worded letter to council members, urging action.
"Time is of the essence," he wrote, adding later: "If you as a body cannot come to a timely decision, then please grant me the authority to make it myself."
No thanks; we're good, the council essentially said Tuesday.
The Century Plaza site looked promising when it was announced as a "medium-term" location in July. Frey, Council President Andrea Jenkins and Vice President Linea Palmisano held a news conference with police brass to tout the idea, which was credited to Jenkins. Among its pros: the building is also the planned future home of the First Precinct, and the idea of "co-locating" the two seemed efficient, even though the building is not within the southeast Minneapolis boundaries the Third Precinct serves.
However, once details emerged two weeks ago — tens of millions of dollars and a lease of 10 years — council members got cold feet.
On Tuesday, several said the plan was now all but dead.
"Three floors, 200 parking spaces, 10 years, $30 million is not something I'm gonna vote for, and I think there's a lot of unanimity around that," Council Member Lisa Goodman said before asking for nods from her colleagues who agreed with her.
Palmisano acknowledged Frey's letter and his wish for the council to pick from existing options, but said the council should "remove the co-location proposal at Century Plaza and consider the remaining options."
What are the "remaining options"?
Last year, a process led by Frey's administration narrowed the possible permanent sites to two: rehabbing the charred building or erecting a new station on a nearby vacant city-owned lot at 2600 Minnehaha Av.
Those options were cast aside after blowback over the process. The City Council eventually voted to ban police from ever returning to the previous precinct station — whatever becomes of it. It's unclear if that council resolution carries any legal weight.
On Tuesday, Council Member Andrew Johnson suggested other options haven't been explored — including one he'd personally identified just in the last week.
"This work is not something that needs to take a year," he said. "This is something that can happen over the coming months, and we can make a ton of progress on that."
The lone voice of discontent with Tuesday's course was Jenkins, who said she thought the council had agreed to support the Century Plaza site. She abstained in what amounted to a 12-0-1 vote.
Following the council's committee meeting, the mayor issued a statement through a spokesperson that reiterated his position.
"The City Council has made it clear what they are against, but we need to know what they are for," said Darwin Forsyth, a Frey spokesperson. "If they are unable to come to a decision about where to put the precinct, they should grant the mayor the authority to make that decision himself. Residents who rely on the Third Precinct's services are owed a decision."
The council did take one clear action: It affirmed the plan for the First Precinct to move into Century Plaza, removing any chance that project could become embroiled in the Third Precinct indecision.