‘Windy City Rehab’ star Alison Victoria returns to ‘Rock the Block’ tonight: Here’s where her legal problems stand
Alison Victoria returns to HGTV Monday with the second season premiere of “Rock the Block.” But she’s still facing a number of legal troubles in Chicago.
“Windy City Rehab” may not be releasing new episodes anytime soon, but fans of designer Alison Victoria can catch her on the latest season of “Rock the Block.”
The second season, which debuts Monday at 8 p.m. on HGTV, will follow four teams of two designers who compete to flip three identical houses on the same block. Each team will receive $225,000, and the winning team will see their names on the block’s street signs. Special guests will also be popping for design challenges, and Ty Pennington will host.
Victoria, whose full name is Alison Victoria Gramenos, will work with Mike Holmes from “Holmes On Homes.” Other teams include: Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent of “Nate and Jeremiah: Save My House;” David Bromstad of “My Lottery Dream Home” and Tiffany Brooks from the upcoming show “50K Three Ways;” and Brian and Mika Kleinschmidt of “100 Day Dream Home.”
In Chicago where “Windy City Rehab” is filmed, Victoria faces a number of legal troubles stemming from properties shown on her TV series. Those problems have escalated into several lawsuits and a split from her former co-host, builder Donovan Eckhardt.
Shortly after the first season of the show wrapped up in March 2015, residents and alderman near the properties accused Victoria and Eckhardt of being bad neighbors, complaining of noise and unsecured work sites. The city slapped the duo with two stop-work orders on one of their projects.
Two months later, the pair received yet another stop-work order and eventually suspended Eckhardt’s contractor’s license for 45 days. As of September, the license, which expired last March, has not been renewed, and a city spokesperson said Victoria and Eckhardt are suspended from getting new building permits in Chicago.
In January 2020, the buyers of a $1.36 million Lincoln Square home featured on the show sued Victoria and Eckhardt and tried to force the show’s hosts to take back the house, which they say is plagued by leaks and shoddy work.
According to the lawsuit, the day after the buyers closed on the 4,000-square-foot luxury home, an upper-floor shower leaked gallons of water into the kitchen ceiling below.
And things only got worse, the suit says, with a leaky roof, poorly installed windows and other issues.
Just days later, a subcontractor filed a lawsuit against Eckhardt, claiming he’s still owed money for work he did on another rehabbing project.
The problems didn’t let up. In May 2020, another homeowner, this one of a $1.3 million home in Bucktown, sued the “Windy City Rehab” stars, alleging fraud and shoddy work and demanding a refund of their $1.33 million purchase price.
The suit also asked for a permanent injunction to force Discovery Inc.’s HGTV to take Victoria and Eckhardt off the air, saying it is “deceptive” to portray them as “superstar experts” who create “compelling and stunning transformations.”
The relationship between Eckhardt and Victoria deteriorated as the lawsuits stacked up. In a text message included in the Lincoln Square home lawsuit, Victoria wrote, “I do not want him to f--- with my life or business any more than he already has.” In the season two premiere of “Windy City Rehab,” the designer contined her attacks on Eckhardt, and much of the subsequent season painted him as the perpetrator.
Eckhardt has since filed a defamation lawsuit against the network and production company of “Windy City Rehab,” alleging that the show falsely scripted him as an untrustworthy “villain” who stole money.
He was a manufactured bad guy meant to boost ratings, the suit states.
In the 23-page lawsuit filed in Cook County Circuit Court in January 21, Eckhardt goes through each episode of the second season point by point, and essentially calls “BS,” saying the reality show starring Alison Victoria Gramenos was filled with fake scenes intended to make him look bad.
For all the bad press, HGTV appears to be standing by the show. Last month, the network ordered nine more episodes of the show.