“It's never easy to build,” the HGTV star, who partnered with Super 8 by Wyndham for its new ROOM8 design, says of the permitting threats her show faced

By Dana Rose Falcone
October 28, 2019 04:36 PM

In HGTV’s new series Rock the Block, Alison Victoria throws down against three other designers to remodel four identical houses. But in real life, she and her competitors are great friends.

Each week the Windy City Rehab star, along with Restored by the FordsLeanne Ford, Good BonesMina Starsiak and Hidden Potential’s Jasmine Roth make over a different room in the house with the goal of adding the most property value, and a judge from the HGTV family decides on the winner.

The four design pros are serious about winning, but when the cameras stop rolling, it’s a different dynamic all together.

“The best part of [doing the show] is the friendship that I have now with each girl,” Victoria, 37, tells PEOPLE at an event for Super 8 by Wyndham‘s ROOM8 Design Challenge. “We talk to each other all the time. We’re on a group text. We talk to each other all the time. We really did form a friendship through this competition.”

Monday’s premiere episode saw Ford, 38, walk away with the win for the master suites round, but Victoria harbors no ill will. In fact, she says. “I’ve always coveted Leanne’s designs. So to be able to see what she did, and also what the other girls did, it’s very, very cool.”

Despite forming a close friendship with the other three designers, “I was there to win,” Victoria says.

Credit: AP Images for Super 8 by Wyndham

Victoria never met a challenge she couldn’t tackle. So when Super 8 by Wyndham asked her to work with the college student who won its ROOM8 Design Challenge on a new shared room concept, the host jumped at the opportunity.

“I felt an immediate connection with this new ROOM8 rollout. I just thought the concept was brilliant, the name was brilliant and the fact that I could actually mentor the winner and have this opportunity that I got early on in my career and be able to give it back to somebody is pretty cool,” Victoria says. “For me, it was a win-win-win.”

The HGTV star calls the concept that reimagines the traditional hotel suite to accommodate a new generation of travelers who prefer communal spaces “easy to be behind.”

“It’s brilliant because we’re thinking about who’s traveling, and who’s traveling are millennials,” she says.

RELATED VIDEO: HGTV’s Rock the Block Trailer

While talking to PEOPLE, Victoria also gave some hints about the second season of her show Windy City Rehab, which ran into permitting issues over the summer as they filmed season 2.

“If anybody thought it was hard to build in Chicago from season 1, wait until you see season 2,” she says. “You get to see the real challenges and the rewards.”

The Chicago Department of Buildings notified Victoria and her cohost Donovan Eckhardt that they would be unable to file new permit applications. The city also moved to suspend Eckhardt’s real estate developer license and general contractor license for one year.

Credit: HGTV

“It’s never easy to build,” Victoria says. “Talk to any real developer and see how the building process goes. It’s very, very difficult.”

The Chicago native promises the next season will follow her journey working and building in the city when it premieres in mid-2020. “That’s my real life,” Victoria says. “It’s really not a show I created. It’s my life and then a show that follows it. It’s going to be unreal.”

Rock the Block airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on HGTV.