Work Stopped at HGTV Stars’ Properties as City Suspends Permits for ‘Windy City Rehab’ Developers
Earlier this year, HGTV said the new Chicago-based series was “on pace to rank as the network’s highest-rated freshman series in more than a year"
The stars of HGTV's "Windy City Rehab" are facing trouble with their latest construction projects after Chicago officials suspended their permit privileges and may pull their license entirely.
The Chicago Department of Buildings said it has suspended Greymark Development Group, owned by “Windy City Rehab” co-star Donovan Eckhardt, from pulling permits in Chicago. The city also moved to suspend the group's licenses for one year, according to Department of Buildings spokesperson Gregg Cunningham.
Greymark Development Group and Eckhardt appealed the suspension but their appeal was denied, records show.
"The city has not yet made a final determination on whether the license suspension will be upheld," Cunningham said in a statement.
In addition, all LLCs associated with Alison Gramenos, Eckhardt's co-star on the show who goes by Alison Victoria, have been suspended from pulling permits. That suspension has been appealed but the city has not ruled on whether the suspension will be upheld.
"Issues related to Windy City Rehab have been carefully reviewed," HGTV said in a statement. "Appropriate parties are in communication with local building officials and working to resolve any outstanding issues."
Gramenos, Eckhardt and Greymark Development Group could not immediately be reached for comment.
According to the suspension notice for Gramenos' LLCS, allegations include performing or directing work without proper permits, making false statements on permit applications and performing or directing "work that poses an immediate or imminent threat to the health and safety of workers or the public."
Footage from one of the group's properties at 1846 N. Damen Ave., formerly the Miko's Italian Ice dessert shop, showed an orange stop work sign Tuesday. Other properties listed in the notice - including ones at 1924 W. Berenice Ave., 1815 W. Augusta Blvd., and 3352 S. Carpenter - also had similar signs, the Chicago Tribune reports. It remains unclear which homes were set to be featured on the show's second season.
The suspension for the Greymark Development Group alleges it failed to contact the building department for required final inspections for two new construction properties before allowing two units to be sold and occupied.
The latest permit problems come after a stop worker order was issued at a Bucktown home that was set to be featured on the show.
The Department of Buildings confirmed the order was issued in May in the 1900 block of North Hoyne Avenue after officials said “a new garage and roof deck were constructed at this property without a permit.”
“The Department of Buildings takes this issue very seriously,” Cunningham said in a statement at the time. “The permitting process ensures that buildings are constructed in compliance with all applicable building and zoning codes. Performing work without a permit or beyond the scope of a permit is a serious offense that could pose a threat to construction workers and public safety. It can also result in fines and costly repairs or remediation work by the owner in order to bring the project into compliance.”
HGTV said in a statement it was aware of the stop worker order at the property in Chicago and repeated the “appropriate parties are in communication with local building officials and working to resolve any outstanding issues.”
“Our first goal is to work with owners to correct issues and come into compliance with City Code,” Cunningham said. “The Building Department will continue to closely monitor work being performed by Greymark Development and we will not hesitate to take further enforcement action against the developer if necessary.”
Earlier this year, HGTV said the new Chicago-based series was “on pace to rank as the network’s highest-rated freshman series in more than a year.” The network ultimately picked up 10 new episodes for the show’s second season, calling it a “millennial favorite.”
The show has garnered more than 9.3 million viewers since its premiere in January, the network reported in February.
Designer Alison Victoria, who previously hosted “Kitchen Crashers” on HGTV, called it her “dream to flip houses” in her hometown.
“But renovating homes in this price point leaves a ton of money on the line,” Victoria said in a statement. “These are high-stakes projects that could spiral out of control at any minute. It’s big risks and big rewards.”
The Chicago Sun-Times reports these aren't the first problems to face one of the show’s properties.
According to the publication, city officials met with Eckhardt on March 22 after two earlier stop work orders at a different Bucktown project. There, neighbors had complained about noise, trash and unsecured work sites.