Cupcake may make a comeback in St. Paul

After you’ve stuffed yourself on tilapia tacos at Tin Fish this summer, you might be able to drive over to St. Paul for a gourmet cupcake and a glass of wine.

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St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman today announced he’s found the parking spaces and has the votes to revive plans for the popular Minneapolis bakery Cupcake to open a second location on Grand Ave.

But a parliamentary tactic from Council Member Dave Thune, whose 2nd Ward includes that stretch of Grand, could pose additional delays.

Cupcake started renovating the retail space formerly occupied by the Wonderment toy store earlier this year after the city granted it a parking variance. Because the business will include a wine bar, it’s supposed to have ten of its own off-street parking spaces. But it had only three connected with its building.

The owner had an agreement to rent additional spaces in the lot attached to Anderson Cleaners, across the street. But some neighbors objected the plan was insufficient and worried it would set a bad precedent. They filed an appeal, and a 5-2 majority of the City Council granted it.

Since then, Cupcake has found four more spaces in a nearby ramp for its employees to use. And Coleman’s office says it has convinced one member of the council, Chris Tolbert, to change his vote. That, combined with the mayor’s veto, is enough to trump the previous council action.

The mayor’s office says that when Thune heard about the veto plan, he pulled off a parliamentary maneuver to delay any further action on the issue for four weeks.

Thune hasn’t returned calls from MPR seeking an explanation, but he told MinnPost he objected to the mayor’s “brinksmanship.” In the article, Thune suggests the council may reconsider Cupcake’s parking variance next week.

Cupcake owner Kevin VanDeraa says he’s already sunk more than $100,000 into the venture, which he’d originally hoped to open last year. He’s frustrated with Thune’s move, but at this point he’s willing to wait.

“If I walk away, I’ve spent all this money and I walk away with nothing,” VanDeraa said. “If I stay and fight and spend a little more money, I end up with a store. Hopefully in five years this all will be just a bad dream.”

He hopes to have the place open by June.

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