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Roundabout St. Paul maneuvers resolve Cupcake restaurant parking dilemma

The circuitous effort to get the Cupcake restaurant, bakery and wine bar to open on St. Paul’s Grand Avenue may have been straightened out Wednesday through some odd City Hall maneuvering.

First, the City Council voted to formalize its opposition to a parking plan for Cupcake in the parking-starved commercial area, the final step in a long process that would, on the face of it, block the restaurant from opening.

But that was just a formality, a feint.

Behind the scenes, Mayor Chris Coleman and Cupcake owner Kevin VanDeraa had been working with Council Member Dave Thune on a new plan, which found some extra parking spaces in the area that were “underused,” and could be leased by the restaurant.

Rather than go through another lengthy process to get the new parking plan through the council, it was quicker to approve the old, outdated plan that everyone now decided they didn’t want, so the mayor could veto it.

Second, the mayor did veto the item.

Third, the council then voted on whether to override the veto. So, to no one’s surprise at this point, it didn’t pass. The vote was 0-7.

The end result: The mayor’s veto effectively upholds the decision made by the Board of Zoning Appeals, which does grant a parking variance for Cupcake, which now has off-street parking for 10 additional vehicles by leasing a portion of two underutilized area parking lots for employees and customers.

Whew.

The restaurant is in Thune’s ward, and he’d had problems with the original parking plan (and thought the mayor was engaging in some brinkmanship), but he now says the new plan “works for the neighborhood.”

Next step: Cupcake must apply for a beer and wine license, which requires 45-day notice to neighbors.

The goal is to open yet this summer.

We’ll see how that goes.

Two Cities blog, which covers Minneapolis and St. Paul City Halls, is made possible in part by grants from The Saint Paul Foundation and the Carolyn Foundation.

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Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Jane McClure on 04/05/2012 - 03:26 pm.

    um, this needs clarification

    I would hardly call a City Council action memorializing a previous action a “feint.” When the City Council overturned the Board of Zoning Appeals decision granting the variance, new findings had to be written in a new resolution to overturn that decision and uphold the appeals. Laying it over or withdrawing it didn’t work. The council had to act one way or the other.
    And this is not a new parking plan. Parking spaces at Grand Place and Anderson Cleaners had been discussed since last year. Maintaining leases for unspecified spaces was part of the BZA approval in December 2011, but the spaces weren’t factored directly into the number of spaces in the variance.
    And if anyone wants to be on my team for St. Paul City Council Trivial Pursuit, give a call.

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