‘Windy City Rehab’ stalled again after Alison Victoria, crew quarantined over coronavirus fears
In some of her first public comments after controversy engulfed the HGTV hit, Victoria says she plans to speak her “truth” on Season 2 of the show.
The star of the Chicago-based reality television show “Windy City Rehab” opened up about her money worries and fears about the COVID-19 coronavirus, which she said sidelined her and her crew for 14 days in March.
Alison Victoria, whose real name is Alison Gramenos, told the “The John Roa Show” podcast, released Wednesday, that her Los Angeles-based producer fell ill with a suspected case of the virus, and even though a test was “inconclusive,” it threw a wrench into their plans.
She said it happened about three and a half weeks ago, just as they were getting ready to stage a home in Bridgeport.
“He had all the symptoms … he couldn’t come back anymore, and we were around him, so we had to be quarantined for 14 days and it was like my whole world stopped for a moment.”
Victoria said Season 2 of the popular HGTV show will premiere in July.
She referred to having “seven homes, seven loans” for Season 2 and mentioned a project in Bridgeport and in a Gold Coast high-rise. Season 1 featured 11 properties on the North Side.
The former host of “Kitchen Crashers” on DIY Network said the upcoming season of “Windy City Rehab” will feature “my truth” and the “real drama that’s happening on a daily basis where, you know, things don’t go the right way or the projects aren’t as profitable as you think.”
“I think this is going to be a real time for me to connect even on a deeper level with viewers, because they don’t want lies,” Victoria said on the podcast.
Victoria, who lives in Bucktown, mentioned having investors but said she has “hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up” and uses her own money on the projects. COVID-19 has injected uncertainty into real estate, she said.
“That’s scary to me because obviously I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back in those homes; it’s scary to me because of what happens with all the financial institutions that I’m dealing with. You know, I’m no longer a priority,” she said.
Victoria referred vaguely to the troubles between her and Donovan Eckhardt of Greymark Development Group LLC, her co-host on Season 1.
The show, she said, is “holy s—-, this is real, it’s raw, it’s insane, she’s losing her mind, she’s losing her money. Her partnership is being put to the test. And will that even make it, and am I going to lose it all? And I still don’t know the answer to that, to be honest with you. I have hundreds of thousands of dollars tied up in projects.”
A text included with a December 2019 lawsuit over a project in Lincoln Square laid bare some of that tension. Victoria angrily texted, in discussing a check from one of Eckhardt’s accounts that bounced: “If I have to cover his portion I will. I do not want him to f--- with my life or business any more than he already has.”
She also posted on Instagram that she was working with a new general contractor.
Victoria filed her own lawsuit in February against a notary public claiming her signature was forged on various documents.
Victoria couldn’t be reached for comment. Eckhardt did not respond to an email seeking comment.
On the podcast, Victoria did not address the problems the pair has had with the Chicago Department of Buildings, which temporarily yanked Eckhardt’s contractor license in 2019 and has barred both co-hosts from applying for any new building permits.
The city had issued numerous stop-work orders, some for work that was not up to code and “poses an immediate or imminent threat to the health and safety of workers or the public.” Three properties remain the subject of legal action by the city, a Buildings Department spokeswoman said.
The spokeswoman said Wednesday both Victoria and Eckhardt remain suspended from getting new building permits. They are only allowed to obtain permits to “correct all outstanding violations and complete all pending projects in a code-compliant manner.”
The show has millions of fans. But some 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 another.
The lawsuit over the $1.36 million home in Lincoln Square alleged the home was plagued by leaks and shoddy work. The episode featured actors pretending to be the buyers, after the buyers apparently declined to appear on-camera.
On the podcast, Victoria took issue with media reports, saying, “It’s very upsetting when people read the news and they think that’s the truth. And that to me is not my truth.”