‘I WANT TO RIP HIS FACE OFF’

Ali­son Vic­to­ria goes af­ter co-host in ‘Windy City Re­hab’ 2nd sea­son pre­miere

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MITCH DUDEK, STAFF RE­PORTER mdudek@suntimes.com | @mitch­dudek

Some­one’s get­ting thrown un­der the bus.

That much seems clear af­ter watch­ing the sec­ond sea­son pre­miere of HGTV’s “Windy City Re­hab.”

The Sun-Times got a sneak peek of the new­est episode of the pop­u­lar re­al­ity show, which fol­lows Chicago de­signer Ali­son Vic­to­ria as she buys, re­habs and flips homes. The se­ries, which was watched by 24.5 mil­lion view­ers last year, is set to restart Sept. 15.

Just min­utes into the episode, Vic­to­ria (whose le­gal name is Ali­son Gra­menos) un­cov­ers sus­pi­cious bud­get dis­crep­an­cies car­ried out by her co-host and gen­eral con­trac­tor Dono­van Eck­hardt.

The is­sue came up af­ter a bank re­fused to is­sue the pair a loan to buy a Lo­gan Square prop­erty be­cause bankers were still wait­ing to be re­paid on a loan that was to cover con­struc­tion costs of a home on the 1600 block of North Wood Street in Buck­town — a short walk from Vic­to­ria’s own home.

‘Where did the money go?’

The ma­jor­ity of the $715,000 bank loan, Vic­to­ria learned, had been paid to a com­pany Eck­hardt owns, with lit­tle progress to show for it.

“Where did the money go?” she asks two con­fi­dants — sav­ing a di­rect con­fronta­tion with Eck­hardt for an­other episode and not al­low­ing him to de­fend him­self. (Nei­ther Vic­to­ria nor Eck­hardt re­sponded to re­quests for com­ment.)

“I don’t know what to be­lieve any­more be­cause for so long I was let­ting him run all the bud­gets, do the bank draws, deal with the bank ac­counts, and I just was de­sign­ing,” she says in the episode.

“We have 12 com­pa­nies to­gether be­cause each house is a dif­fer­ent LLC,” she says, re­fer­ring to the lim­ited li­a­bil­ity com­pa­nies the duo cre­ated to pur­chase homes fea­tured on the show.

“How do you get out of that?” she says. “You don’t just go, ‘Why don’t you get rid of the guy? ... If that re­ally could be ... I would do it now, but I can’t.

“I have this house and I have seven other prop­er­ties,” she says of their over­lap­ping projects. “He’s on all the loans. How am I sup­posed to just be like, ‘Oh, I’m not go­ing to work with him any­more?’ You know, I kept mak­ing up ex­cuses. I kept go­ing ‘Maybe this was just too much, maybe 10 homes was just too much for him to han­dle.

“Me, my busi­ness and my rep­u­ta­tion are not go­ing to sur­vive if this stuff keeps hap­pen­ing. No way.”

Says Eck­hardt: “I just want to get in my car and drive and leave ev­ery­thing be­hind me.”

A host vs. host sto­ry­line has been brew­ing for some time.

The two have faced com­plaints from neigh­bors over messy con­struc­tion sites, a crack­down by the city’s build­ings de­part­ments, and sev­eral law­suits from two sets of un­happy buy­ers, un­paid con­trac­tors and in­vestors who of­fered Vic­to­ria and Eck­hardt seed money.

In a text in­cluded with a law­suit filed by a Lin­coln Square cou­ple al­leg­ing shoddy work­man­ship and fraud, Vic­to­ria an­grily writes, 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.”

The show ac­knowl­edges some of the prob­lems in the open­ing mo­ments, which in­clude video clips of news sto­ries about the show’s le­gal chal­lenges. Bold capital let­ters flash a mes­sage: “You’ve seen the head­lines. Now see the full story.”

Stop-work or­ders at prop­er­ties are flashed on the screen, and Vic­to­ria ac­knowl­edges: “The city of Chicago is just com­ing down on me, I’m just con­stantly stopped.”

In­deed, Vic­to­ria and Eck­hardt are sus­pended from get­ting new build­ing per­mits in Chicago, ac­cord­ing to a city spokes­woman. Eck­hardt’s con­trac­tor’s li­cense, which was tem­po­rar­ily sus­pended last year due to vi­o­la­tions, ex­pired March 12 and has not been re­newed. The li­cense is needed for his com­pany, Grey­mark Devel­op­ment, to op­er­ate in Chicago.

Eck­hardt is on screen for only a few min­utes in the episode. Vic­to­ria ends up tak­ing the reins on the Wood Street pro­ject and brings in an­other gen­eral con­trac­tor to help over­come a se­ries of chal­lenges — in­clud­ing a bur­glary in which thieves made off with a $5,000 toi­let in Novem­ber.

The ten­sion be­tween the two is in stark con­trast to the first sea­son, when Vic­to­ria de­scribed their quirky chem­istry: “Dono­van is pretty much like my work hus­band. He has the anx­i­ety. I have full-blown anger — and it works.”

This sea­son, Vic­to­ria says of her busi­ness part­ner: “I want to be gen­tle, some­times, but then other times I want to rip his face off.”

Episode 2 in Bridge­port?

Though Eck­hardt’s role in the first episode is ab­bre­vi­ated, he reap­pears in the teaser to the sec­ond episode, in which Vic­to­ria, while mak­ing a pitch to re­hab a home in Bridge­port, calls the South Side neigh­bor­hood “the Brook­lyn of Chicago.”

But Eck­hardt says he is not in­ter­ested in sin­gle fam­ily-homes in Bridge­port.

“It’s just go­ing to be less profit, and that’s just a sim­ple fact,” he says. “I think it’s stupid.”

HGTV

Ali­son Vic­to­ria and Dono­van Eck­hardt are at odds in the new sea­son of HGTV’s “Windy City Re­hab.”

MITCH DUDEK/SUN-TIMES

The home on the 1600 block of North Wood Street in Buck­town that’s fea­tured on the up­com­ing Sea­son Two opener of HGTV’s “Windy City Re­hab.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.