UPTOWN — Haymarket Books has cleared the final hurdle to move to the neighborhood, a plan that saw resistance from some who thought the left-leaning publisher would attract radicals to the area.
The publisher won approval from the Zoning Board of Appeals for a special-use permit on Friday, paving the way to open a community center in a historic Buena Park mansion at 800 W. Buena Ave.
The city panel's OK comes after the project won neighborhood support by a 50-30 vote in a survey of the community. After neighbors within 250 feet of the property voted to approve the zoning change, 46th Ward Ald. James Cappleman agreed, saying residents' concerns about parking and congestion had been addressed adequately.
"This special use also helps to protect the historic nature of this home," Cappleman wrote in his newsletter to constituents.
The umbrella organization the Center for Economic Research and Social Change, which applied for the permit previously held by the Menomonee Club, has drawn criticism for its other organization's politics.
Since Haymarket Books, a self-described "radical progressive" publisher, expressed interest in buying the property, neighbors have been bombarded with flyers for and against the sale.
One read: "On the web, they openly invite to their meetings: 'radicals, activists and, self-described revolutionaries.' They give prisoners discounts to their publications. We believe in free speech and the right to protest, but keep our neighborhood quiet and safe."
Other opponents worried about parking and traffic.