NAPERVILLE (CBS) — Mixing a family business with city business?
On the record, more than once, Naperville’s mayor has said he has no personal vested interest in any development projects in the city.
However, CBS 2 has now learned, Steve Chirico’s flooring business has submitted a bid for work on a once controversial condo project.
The units are among the most expensive in Naperville, selling for up to $1.5 million.
And, they haven’t even been built yet.
The 17 planned Central Park Place condominiums, incorporating the city’s 120-year-old Nichols library, spurred a controversy long before floor plans were online.
The developer and owner originally planned to tear down the library, but an outcry from residents prompted a city council vote to protect the building as a local historic landmark.
Chirico was among the three who voted against the designation in 2017. He said a vote to protect the building was against the owner and project developer’s property rights.
Although Chirico has said, more than once, that he and his family don’t have any financial advantage, or money to be made, through future developments.
“We have made sure there is a firewall between myself, my family and the things that we do,” Chirico said at a recent mayor forum. “I don’t want anybody to be able to accuse my company or myself of having a financial benefit of the work we do.”
So when CBS 2 independently confirmed the business he founded and still owns, Great Western Flooring, now has ties to the Central Park Place project, we went to his office to ask him about it.
He first told CBS 2: “We did not bid that job, nor do we intend to bid that job.”
However, a few hours later, Chirico called back with a different explanation.
Chirco said he’s no longer involved in Great Western’s day-to-day operations, focusing full-time on mayoral duties. His daughters run the business, and he said he didn’t realize at the time of the initial interview that Great Western Flooring is involved in the project.
He said his company was brought in by a designer because of a specific product it carries.
“We sent them a proposal with pricing and now we are waiting on them to make up their mind on what direction they’re gonna go,” he said.
That explanation brought us back to Naperville for a follow-up interview.
In that subsequent interview, Chirco said he “had no knowledge when I was working with the city council on this project that we would ever be involved with it.”
He said he would have recused himself from the city council votes, had he known otherwise.
He acknowledged previously saying in public that his family-owned business had no plans to financially gain from future town development projects.
“That is true,” he said. “But I also named those developments and I did not name this particular one. And I was not aware of this one. But I also don’t consider this a major development.”
Chrico said he agreed to the interviews because he stands for transparency. He also said he supports his family business’ bid to win the Central Park Place contract because he had no idea when he voted on the project that his company would be approached years later.