NEAR WEST SIDE — A Cook County judge approved the city’s request to inspect a warehouse leased by singer R. Kelly on the Near West Side next week.
On Friday, Judge Patrice Bell-Reed ordered Midwest Commercial Funding LLC, the building’s owner, to allow city officials to inspect the property at 219 N. Justine St. rented by Kelly Wednesday at noon.
The request comes after the city received 311 complaints alerting city officials that people were living in the property, city Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said Friday afternoon.
The building, which is zoned for manufacturing, is not allowed be used as a living space under city ordinance, McCaffrey said.
Renewed attention has been focused on Kelly following the release of a six-part docuseries “Surviving R. Kelly,” in which alleged victims discuss the singer’s involvement with underage girls.
A protest took place outside the Near West Side studio earlier this week, with another planned this weekend.
On Wednesday, inspectors will be looking for any alterations that have been made to the building, whether that has been converted into residential or if there was any work completed without a permit, McCaffrey said.
“The city knows that there hasn’t been any permits pulled for this property since 1998. There has been permits applied for that were never granted. The city has concerns that there was work done to the property,” McCaffrey said.
McCaffrey said the city is worried that people are living in the building illegally, since it’s zoned for manufacturing, not residential.
The city will report inspection findings at another court hearing Jan. 22.
Cook County court records show that an eviction order was entered against Kelly on Monday to vacate the warehouse and studio space, the Sun-Times reports. The building’s owners allege he owes about $80,000 in back rent.
In a statement, an attorney for Midwest Commercial Funding, which owns the 219 N. Justine St. building, said the firm initiated eviction proceedings against Kelly in June 2018.
Earlier this week, Cook County prosecutors said they have heard from two families of missing women concerned about their ties to singer R. Kelly. Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx urged anyone with more information to come forward.
“There is nothing that can be done to investigate these allegations without the cooperation of both victims and witness,” Foxx said. “We cannot seek justice without you.”
At least two women have contacted Foxx’s office since Wednesday afternoon about their contact with R. Kelly, the Sun-Times reports.
On Tuesday, multiple news organizations reported Kelly is being investigated in Fulton County, Ga. following the sex abuse allegations in the documentary.
In response to the docuseries, Kelly’s attorney Steve Greenberg told WGN the singer did nothing illegal.
“There are no underage women, there is no sex cult, it’s all some reality TV made up story,” Greenberg said.
In 2008, Kelly faced child pornography charges in Cook County stemming from a 2002 sex tape that prosecutors said showed him with an underage girl. He was acquitted at trial of the charges.