Chicago Residents Fought Alison Victoria on This ‘Windy City Rehab’ Project

HGTV has a new Fixer Upper and not everyone is onboard with it. Windy City Rehab is a Chicago-based home renovation series starring Alison Victoria and her business partner, Donovan Eckhardt. Together, the designer and lead contractor breathe life back into some of Chicago’s oldest, most historic homes. Despite their attempts to save these vintage homes, Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt have faced a lot of push back from Chicago Residents.

Up ahead, we take a closer look at the Windy City Rehab renovation that Chicago residents petitioned against.

Alison Victoria
Alison Victoria | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

‘Windy City Rehab: Historical Headache’

In the sixth episode of Windy City Rehab season 1, Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt tackle a so-called “Historical Headache” in Chicago’s historic Ukranian Village.  And a historical headache is right. The vintage home was the first landmarked abode in the neighborhood, which caused multiple issues right off the bat.

At the beginning of the build, the number one concern was not exactly the Thomas Street neighbors (though that quickly changed) — it was the strict historical build guidelines and potential financial loss. However, as their city approvals came through and Alison and Donovan went to town on renovating the stunning space, neighbors became more and more concerned about their neighborhood’s charm and, more importantly, their safety.

Ukranian Village residents petitioned against ‘Windy City Rehab’

After receiving the green light for an expansive addition, neighbors grew concerned about what that would do to the neighborhood and drafted up a petition against Alison Victoria and Donovan Eckhardt’s project.

“We the neighbors and residents of the landmark district in Ukranian Village oppose your plans to build an addition that will extend well beyond the porch line that now forms the backyard landscape of these historic cottages,” the petition read. “This addition is done without regard to the original intent of a Chicago backyard and residents that currently reside in the landmark district,” it concluded. Although the city approved the addition, the neighborhood petition received over two dozen signatures along with multiple complaints in the Chicago Tribune.

“Everything was permitted appropriately, the way it was supposed to be. We are passionate about restoring this building and I am sensitive to the neighbors’ needs,” Donovan Eckhardt said in a statement. “I had a meeting with them last week and offered to help them with adding design landscaping for their side of the property. I am positive when it’s done it will fit in well and will be a fine addition,” he added.

‘Windy City Rehab’ safety concerns

Blending in with the other historic homes isn’t the only issue. In addition to complaints about the size of the addition, neighbors were also concerned about their safety with “hazardous” construction a site and Alison and Donovan’s “lack of community outreach.”

“We were not notified when they worked on the roof,” one Ukranian Village resident told Chicago Tribune. “This created hazardous conditions for not just us and our dog, but anyone in our yard. They routinely threw debris from the roof without letting us know or out of the front of the house. The debris included nails, old beam straps made of iron, wood, and metal shrapnel,” they added.

Water under the bridge

Despite the neighbors’ concerns, the Windy City Rehab stars and the Ukranian Village residents made up in the end. “I think if everybody — not if — when everybody sees what our finished project is, like, for instance, this [renovation] on Thomas, we’re getting people coming up saying how beautiful it is and ‘wow,’ instead of eight, nine months ago where they were signing a petition,” she explained, adding that the neighbors are “so sweet to us now.”


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