Seeking salvation in a Minneapolis federal courtroom, the bookstore owner, Jill Rasmuson, and her lawyer, Randall Tigue, have vowed to keep the historic location from being condemned and razed. The store has been operating since the 1970s.
The push to shut down the bookstore has been the handy work of city planners who in their effort to force a $2 million revitalization of the area that many consider “seedy,” have used eminent domain and city zoning law to try and force the bookstore to relocate outside of city limits. The new zoning laws, which went into effect after the store opened, prevent it from operating as both an adult bookstore and an adult video arcade.
Last month the St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority voted to condemn the building. Pressure to buy out neighboring buildings and condemn them as well has so far met with success. However, the owner of the building that houses R&R Books and an adjacent liquor store has refused to cave in to pressure from city officials.
Rasmuson and Tigue say the use of eminent domain in this case is unconstitutional. Their lawsuit asks the court for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction based on the city’s violation of their free speech rights.
"The city of St. Paul has put my client in an absolutely impossible position," Tigue said. "St. Paul can either have its condemnation or it can have its zoning ordinance, but it can't have both.”
In the meantime, the building owner struck a $1.3 million deal with a third party to sell the building and liquor store, which could eventually foil city efforts to use eminent domain to demolish the building. If the new owner is unable to obtain a new liquor license from the city, St. Paul might be forced to re-examine its decision to seize the property.