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Wicker Park, Bucktown, West Town

‘Windy City Rehab’ Returning To HGTV Next Month Despite Years Of Controversy

"Windy City Rehab" properties have been the subject of ire among neighbors in Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, Bucktown and other parts of Chicago.

The developer behind HGTV's Windy City Rehab is banned from getting new city building permits for a year.
Hannah Alani/Block Club Chicago/HGTV
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BUCKTOWN — Controversial TV show “Windy City Rehab” will return to HGTV next month after a year of legal drama with city officials and homeowners.

The new season will include five 90-minute episodes premiering 9 p.m. Sept. 15, according to an HGTV news release.

In the upcoming season, Alison Victoria Gramenos, the star of the show, will continue her work to “transform historic fixer-uppers,” while managing a “strained business relationship, [contending] with permit delays and [battling] stop work orders,” according to the network.

“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.”

It’s not clear which properties will be featured in the upcoming season, but a Gramenos-owned property at 1815 W. Augusta Blvd. in East Ukrainian Village was seen undergoing renovations this week.

“Running a design and renovation business in Chicago is not for the faint of heart,” Gramenos said, according to the release. “It has tested me in more ways than I could have ever imagined.”

“Windy City Rehab” properties have drawn ire from neighbors in Ukrainian Village, Wicker Park, Bucktown and other parts of Chicago for years — and have recently drawn legal scrutiny from city officials and unhappy homeowners.

In August 2018, Ukrainian Village resident Miriam Ruiz protested construction of a “Windy City Rehab” project at 2123 W. Thomas St. by starting a petition and meeting with Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd). 

“It’s ruining the character of the block,” Ruiz said at the time. 

“They are going to sell it, flip it and they’re gone,” said Miriam’s husband, Tony Ruiz.

RELATED: HGTV Renovation Is ‘Ruining’ Our Backyard Views, Ukrainian Village Neighbors Say

Last year, Gramenos and her former co-host, Donovan Eckhardt, bought the old Miko’s Italian Ice building at 1846 N. Damen Ave. for $949,000. 

RELATED: Beloved Miko’s Italian Ice Bids Farewell To Bucktown After Family Sells Building

Shortly after the sale, the city issued a Stop Work Order on the Miko’s property after city inspectors discovered a litany of code violations at properties being rehabbed for the TV show. 

The building sat vacant for most of the year, the only obvious “rehab” being the removal of an old tree. The building was listed on Redfin in March for $999,000.

In total, the city issued 12 Stop Work Orders to properties associated with the TV show last year.

By January, most of the Stop Work Orders had been lifted. Gramenos has been allowed to resume work — but only at the discretion of city officials. 

RELATED: Chicago Stops ‘Windy City Rehab’ Work In Ukrainian Village — Again

Legal drama ensued. In January, a Lincoln Square couple who bought a “Windy City Rehab” home at 2308 W. Giddings St. filed a lawsuit claiming their home has been plagued by “leaks and shoddy work,” the Sun-Times reported. 

In February, Gramenos filed a lawsuit accusing a notary public of forging her signature on bank loans and other important documents, the Sun-Times reported. She later dropped the lawsuit, the Tribune reported.

Neither Gramenos nor spokespeople for HGTV have responded to multiple requests for comment. 

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