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Embattled ‘Windy City Rehab’ star to work with new general contractor — raising questions about Chicago co-host’s future

Star Alison Victoria didn’t respond to messages enquiring about the future of her quirky co-host, Donovan Eckhardt, who functioned as general contractor in the show’s first season

“Windy City Rehab” co-host Donovan Eckhardt (right) is being sued by a sub-contractor for money alleged owed on a rehab project.
Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt
HGTV

In her efforts to get back in the good graces of the city after a number of violations and complaints, the star of the hit TV show “Windy City Rehab” announced the show will go on, but she’ll be working with a new general contractor — raising questions about the future of her quirky co-host.

The HGTV show’s formula for attracting viewers goes like this: The concepts of designer Alison Victoria are carried out by contractor Donovan Eckhardt — in fits and starts. The program shows the two visiting properties around the city, and then deciding which properties to buy, rehab and resell.

“Donovan is pretty much like my work husband,” Victoria says in the intro to the show, which HGTV says was one of its most successful new series. “He has the anxiety. I have full blown anger — and it works.”

But the city Department of Buildings recently whacked the pair with a number of disciplinary measures, throwing into jeopardy their ability to obtain permits and carry out work — and on Sunday Victoria posted a message to her thousands of followers on Instagram.

“I want you to hear it from me directly that I am working closely with the City of Chicago to repair and amend any and all permits with our new general contractors,” she wrote. “The building department says they are pleased with our efforts and we will continue to work closely together.”

The Instagram post did not include the name of the new general contractors.

It represents the first public comment from either show host since news broke last week that the DOB had notified Eckhardt, head of of Greymark Development Group LLC, that it intends to suspend his residential real estate developer license and general contractor license for one year.

Greymark is a Chicago-based luxury general contractor and real estate developer. Records show that Eckhardt and Victoria have purchased several of the homes featured on the show together through a company called Alovan, which is a combination of their two names.

Both Victoria, whose real name is Alison Gramenos, and Eckhardt live in Bucktown, just blocks from several of the properties that have appeared on the show.

Neither Victoria, Eckhardt or HGTV, responded to requests for comment. The show is currently filming its second season.

Eckhardt has filed an appeal, and the suspension has been stayed while the city makes a decision, said department spokesman Gregg Cunningham.

The city also has suspended new permit privileges for both Eckhardt and Victoria and the various business names they operate under.

Victoria has appealed her permit suspension, and her appeal is under review, Cunningham said.

But Eckhardt’s permit privileges appeal was denied May 28. Under city rules, he can appeal again and ask for his permit privileges to be reinstated.

Cunningham confirmed Monday that Victoria is attempting to address the situation and had hired a new contractor.

“She is making an effort to clean her permit applications up,” he said. “We appreciate the efforts to come into compliance.”

In the notice sent to Eckhardt regarding the contractor’s license suspension, the city stated that the contractor performed work without a permit at 11 properties, three of which were featured on the first season of the show: 1803 W. Wabansia Ave., 1906 N. Hoyne Ave. and 1700 W. Wabansia Ave.

The city issued stop-work orders at all 11 properties.

Neighbors have complained about trash, noise and mishaps including a burst water line that flooded a neighbor’s basement at one project and exterior walls that accidentally caved in at the 1803 W. Wabansia Ave. house.

HGTV says the show is one of its most popular new series, claiming 9.3 million viewers in its first month and a half on the air.