‘Windy City Rehab’ Returns as Legal Battles and Controversies Continue
Improbably, Windy City Rehab is returning to HGTV on Tuesday, September 15, as host Alison Victoria Gramenos deals with logistical and legal battles… and a desire to “rip [the] face off” of her costar, contractor Donovan Eckhardt.
In the Season 2 premiere, for example, Gramenos — who goes by Alison Victoria on the show — has a loan application denied and discovers that most of the money budgeted for a stalled renovation has been paid out to Eckhardt’s company.
“I don’t know what to believe anymore,” she says in the episode, per People. “For so long, I was letting [Eckhardt] run all the budgets, do all the bank draws, deal with the bank accounts and I was just designing. It’s been shocking.”
Eckhardt might not be in the Windy City Rehab picture for long, though. He’s not mentioned in an HGTV press release for the show’s second season, and in Tuesday’s premiere, Gramenos discusses untangling their work. “We have twelve companies together because each house is a different LLC,” she tells a friend. “How do you get out of that? All of a sudden the dust starts to settle, you start seeing the light. I kept making up excuses.”
She adds: “This is not a test that I will fail. You bet your ass I’m gonna do this the right way, and you bet your ass I’m gonna make the right call.”
On another front, Gramenos is grappling with the city of Chicago. Block Club Chicago reports that only eight of the 15 properties owned by Gramenos have received final city approval. Four others are awaiting final inspections, and three are the subjects of active court cases—including a house from Season 1 which has a “dilapidated and dangerous” porch, according to the city.
“Inspections of homes under renovation are a common occurrence and issues uncovered during inspections will be addressed with input from local building officials,” HGTV spokesperson Chelsey Riemann said in a statement to the site. “We extend appreciation to all neighbors who shared comments and thank them for their understanding and support during the production of the series.”
There’s more drama, too. In 2018, Chicago residents filed a petition and met with a local alderman about a Windy City Rehab project that was, in the word of one neighbor, “ruining the character of the block.”
In 2019, Chicago officials suspended permit privileges for both Gramenos and Eckhardt and issued 12 stop-work orders at Windy City Rehab properties.
That December, a Chicago couple who purchased a Windy City Rehab house sued Gramenos, Eckhardt and contractor Ermin Pajazetovic, claiming to be living in a “defective” $1.3 million property. “The Morrisseys have not enjoyed a single day in their ‘new’ home without being troubled by major construction defects,” an attorney for the couple told the Chicago Tribune. “In fact, on the day they moved in, an upstairs shower drained through the kitchen ceiling. Since then, there have been a cascade of issues coming to light including water infiltration, rotting windows, and masonry, to name a few.” (A hearing for the case is scheduled for September 22.)
That same month, Pajazetovic’s company sued Eckhardt and another company over $108,500 of allegedly unpaid work, though a counterclaim accuses Pajazetovic and Eckhardt of conspiring in a “scheme” to divert funds from that renovation and a separate project to “prop up” Windy City Rehab work. Pajazetovic’s attorney denied that allegation to the Tribune, and September 24 is listed as a status update for the case.
And this April, another Chicago couple filed suit against the same parties—plus HGTV and companies run by Gramenos and Eckhardt—over what the couple called “defective and incomplete work” at their Windy City Rehab house. They listed more than 30 problems in their complaint—including mold, severe water damage, and a sewage odor—but Gramenos’ attorney called the allegations “misleading and baseless,” according to the Tribune. A hearing is scheduled for October 6.
Despite all these legal woes, Windy City Rehab is returning for a second season of five 90-minute episodes. “As Alison continues her work to transform historic fixer-uppers, she must manage a strained business relationship, contend with permit delays, and battle stop work orders,” HGTV says in a press release. “During the season, unprecedented setbacks put the skilled designer’s reputation and livelihood on the line, but Alison loves her city and won’t give up without a fight.”
Windy City Rehab, Season 2 Premiere, Tuesday, September 15, 9/8c, HGTV