‘Windy City Rehab’ developer’s license suspension upheld after city cites illegal work
The 45-day suspension of Donovan Eckhardt’s contractor’s license was reduced from a proposed year.
The Chicago contractor-turned-TV-star of the hit show “Windy City Rehab” will be barred from doing any construction in the city for 45 days after the city upheld a license suspension following months of illegal work and neighbor complaints.
The license suspension for Donovan Eckhardt of Greymark Development Group LLC was reduced from a proposed suspension of one year in a Department of Buildings decision made public late Tuesday.
Meanwhile, the department upheld its earlier decision to suspend permitting privileges for both Eckhardt and show co-star Alison Victoria, whose real name is Alison Gramenos, and the various business names they operate under.
Calls to Eckhardt and Victoria were not returned Tuesday.
It’s unclear how the city’s actions will impact the show, which is filming its second season in which Victoria — who previously starred in “Kitchen Crashers” — and Eckhardt buy, rehab and attempt to flip houses mainly on the North Side of Chicago. HGTV says the show, which has millions of viewers, is one of its most successful new series.
In suspending Eckhardt’s contractor’s license for 45 days — beginning Monday and lasting through Sept. 12 — and prohibiting him from pulling new permits, the city said Eckhardt violated the law by building three garages and garage decks without permits and endangering workers and the public by removing flooring at properties without putting up safety barriers.
Eckhardt claimed the illegal work was not done at his direction, but was performed by people he authorized to work on the properties, according to the order.
That wasn’t a good enough reason, the city said, because Eckhardt was still the owner and was liable for any work done at the property.
“Eckhardt does not contest that he had authority to supervise and direct work done by co-owners or agents, only that he was unable to effectively do so due to other commitments,” the city said in the order.
The city also cited its stop-work orders issued at 13 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.
In the order upholding Victoria’s suspension of new permitting privileges, the city cited buildings at 1846 N. Damen Ave. and 3352 S. Carpenter St. in which “areas of flooring were removed, leaving exposed floor joists, which was not authorized by any permit.” This posed a danger to workers or potential first-responders, the city said.
The orders also state that both Victoria and Eckhardt can ask the department to issue whatever permits are needed to correct the problems at the properties the city has cited.
In Eckhardt’s case, however, he would have to wait until his 45-day suspension is up in September to begin addressing the violations.
As for the future, if the two manage to straighten everything out and get back in the city’s good graces, both of them can petition the city to reinstate their permitting privileges going forward.