If you're a longtime fan of HGTV, chances are you've seen Alison Victoria (full name Alison Victoria Gramenos). The firecracker interior designer hosts her own series in her hometown of Chicago, Windy City Rehab, but has also appeared on other HGTV shows like Rock the Block. While watching her on camera it seems like the design expert has everything figured out, but it turns out she was having some serious issues with her Windy City co-host, Donovan Eckhardt. Things seemed to spiral out of control in 2019 when the city of Chicago revoked their permit privileges as a result of alleged illegal business activity.
So what exactly went wrong? Allegedly, Eckhardt and his business, Greymark Development Group LLC, who did the contract work on the Windy City Rehab properties, not only illegally worked on numerous houses without permits, but they also didn't even get house inspections completed on some. This is a huge no-no in home renovation. Alison Victoria has said she had no idea any of this was happening behind the scenes since she was always fully focused on the design side of construction. Eckhardt was allegedly also taking money out of his shared business account with Victoria, which led to her officially cutting ties with him.
The city of Chicago recently gave Victoria her permit privileges again. Even though she had no knowledge of the illegal activity, she was held liable as well. Meanwhile, Eckhardt decided to actually sue HGTV and Discovery Plus for defamation for his portrayal in the second season of Windy City Rehab.
The Chicago Tribune reports Eckhardt blames the issues with the city on "aggressive filming and production deadlines" and said "the pace of construction and the unforeseen difficulties of performing renovations of older properties led to a theme of constant crisis management."
"Statements suggesting Donovan misappropriated, embezzled or wrongfully derived money from past projects are false," reads a statement from the lawsuit.
The entire experience with her co-star caused Victoria so much stress, she explained to Loren Ruch and Brian Balthazar on HGTV House Party that she can't even watch the latest episodes which started airing in the fall of 2020.
"I've gone through hell. I'm not even close to being back -- at all," Victoria tells the hosts. "I'm not past it. It's not like 'Oh, she had the hardest year of her life,' like, no, I'm having it," she adds.
"Honestly, I'm not going to watch it," she tells Ruch and Balthazar. "I can't watch it again because it's reliving my life. It's PTSD."
Fair enough. Luckily, Victoria is getting back to what she does best and moving on from her former business partner-- renovating historic Chicago homes for prospective homeowners. The HGTV star loves making sure that the home renovation honors the history of the home and neighborhood which is part of what makes HGTV's Windy City Rehab such a fun show to watch. She really gets creative with her solutions and the ways she executes her makeovers. It feels like a new home, but the interior design makes you feel like it's been there forever. She's a master.
After working with Victoria on the HGTV show Ty Breaker, Ty Pennington opened up about his co-host and it seems she's exactly the way we'd imagine her to be in real life. "Alison, oh my God. She is ... Talk about a firecracker. She's like an M-80," Ty said in an interview with PopCulture.
"I actually went to Chicago to meet with her before any of this even took part and just talking with her, I was like, 'Oh my God. This woman could run a nation. What is going on?' So I was just like I loved how unfiltered her responses were to anything and I was like, 'Okay, I like this.' That's the way she is every day and it's the way she is on TV and that's what I look for, it's just that authenticity."