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Anyone who's been paying even a tiny bit of attention to the news surrounding the HGTV hit Windy City Rehab for the past year will know that things have been far from as elegant and classy as the finished designs for most of the homes on the show. The renovation projects of designer Alison Victoria and contractor Donovan Eckhardt have been hit with a number of complaints, stop work orders and actual lawsuits for many of the houses seen on the first season of their show, and after over a year of the many legal battles becoming even worse, Victoria has both confirmed her split with Eckhardt and spoken about how she now feels.
Season 2 of Windy City Rehab just started on September 15, but it was clear from the very first episode that all of the trouble behind the scenes had impacted Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt's business relationship, which began several years ago after they worked on HGTV's Kitchen Crashers. The first season of their show debuted in January 2019, and became an instant hit, but as problems began to mount with the way Eckhardt, apparently, handled the finances, as well as actual construction matters, everything took a pretty dire turn for the duo.
While there are still several lawsuits pending because of work shown on the series, and neither Victoria nor Eckhardt are allowed to take out any building permits in Chicago right now, she has gone through the difficult process of ending her working partnership with her former co-host. So, how does Victoria feel now that she's cut ties with Eckhardt and what appear to be his questionable business practices? Here's what she told People:
Every day I’m chipping away at it. I’m making the uncomfortable phone calls to the bank and the investors. It’s still a challenge, but I have peace knowing that I tried my hardest and did the right thing...I focus on what can I do, not what I can’t do, because when you do that, you’re going to go down a very dark hole and you can’t dig yourself out. I haven’t allowed myself to go there. I’ve peeked, and I’m like, ‘That’s not for you. You didn’t come this far to fall down. You didn’t come this far to give up.’
Man, I've never gone into business with anyone, but it must be tough to finally come to the realization that not only was that person not able to handle the responsibilities you thought they could, but that their actions have cost you a lot of time, money and grief, which could have taken all of the hopes for your professional future down with them.
A huge part of the issue, of course, is that Victoria and Eckhardt's names are together on all of the homes they've worked to rehab so far. So, when trouble started to come down, it came down on both of them. Things came to a head in the Season 2 opener when the duo tried to secure a bank loan on a new property, and the bank refused because a previous home they were given money for still hadn't been completed. Victoria had her team look into what he issue was, and found out that one of Eckhardt's companies had been given most of the money for that project, but hadn't done nearly enough work on the home to justify the payout that was given.
As in that case, Alison Victoria said in her interview that she's spent much of the past year using her own money to fill in the gaps created by how Eckhardt handled their rehabs, noting how difficult it's been to remove him from what are now her solo business interests:
There are so many things that are still connected. I’ve taken the last year to remove him from a majority of them, but that takes so much time. People just think, ‘Oh, it’s easy. You just get rid of a partner.’ But I have friends that have gone through divorces that aren’t this bad. And those divorces were really bad.
As Alison Victoria told a friend in the Season 2 premiere, she and Eckhardt had to essentially form separate companies for each of their rehab properties, so at the time of that filming they had a whopping 12 companies together. When you consider just that, plus whatever deal was made with the two of them for Windy City Rehab, and the fact that Victoria is now solely responsible for clearing up the many lawsuits against their properties, you can imagine how exhausting this whole thing has been for her.
Luckily, it sounds like Alison Victoria is finding her footing again after a tough year, and with so much yet to clear up, that's a very good thing. Season 2 of Windy City Rehab is currently airing on HGTV, and Victoria will also be seen on the new show Ty Breaker, but we don't know when that will debut yet, so be sure to stay tuned for updates. In the meantime, see what else you can watch with our fall TV schedule.