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Judge allows city to inspect R. Kelly's Chicago recording studio

Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Entertainment News

CHICAGO -- A Cook County, Ill., judge granted an emergency motion Friday allowing Chicago building inspectors to check out the Near West Side recording studio of embattled R&B singer R. Kelly.

R. Kelly's lawyers did not object to the inspection but disputed the city's characterization of the situation as an emergency.

During a hearing at the Daley Center, Judge Patrice Ball-Reed ordered the inspection to take place Wednesday.

The city's Department of Buildings wants to check out if Kelly illegally converted the warehouse at 219 N. Justine St. into a recording studio as well as living quarters without obtaining permits for the work.

Kelly could be on the hook if any building code violations are found.

A five-page emergency motion filed by the city's Law Department was sparked by an anonymous call to the city's 311 line on Wednesday claiming that people were living in the two-story brick building, which is zoned for commercial use, according to city attorney Kimberly Roberts. A building inspector went to the property but was unable to gain entry, prompting the city to go to court.

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"The property is zoned for commercial purposes only, so there shouldn't be anyone living there or having any kind of parties there," Roberts said. "So because of the issue of public safety, we need to get inside and assess what's going on."

The owner could be fined up to $1,000 per day per violation -- costs that could be passed on to Kelly if he was in violation of the terms of his lease, according to the city.

In a separate suit, the building's owner, Midwest Commercial Funding LLC, is trying to evict Kelly for failing to pay rent, court records show. Earlier this week, the Cook County judge overseeing that case ordered Kelly to pay Midwest almost $167,000, according to the records. The judge also allowed the owner to take possession of the property but appeared to put a temporary hold on that order, the records show.

A lawyer representing Midwest did not return a call seeking comment.

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