R. Kelly to move out of disputed recording studio by weekend
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R&B star R. Kelly’s possessions will be out of the Near West Side warehouse he’d converted into a recording studio by this weekend, attorneys said at an eviction hearing Thursday.
Kelly’s attorney, Melvin Sims, said he’d reached an agreement with the owners of the building under which he’d withdraw a motion asking Cook County Circuit Court Judge Jim Ryan to reconsider an eviction order — effectively concluding the case.
Jamie Burns, who represents the owner of the building, Midwest Commercial Funding, told the judge: “He’s moving out this weekend, is my understanding.”
After the brief hearing at the Daley Center, Sims said Kelly is “tendering possession of the premises back to the landlord voluntarily — no eviction, no sheriff involved.”
Left unclear is whether Kelly has paid any of the nearly $167,000 in back rent that spurred eviction proceedings and a pending lawsuit.
Sims said he expects Kelly’s name will be removed from a separate lawsuit brought by the city against Kelly and Midwest Commercial alleging zoning and other building violations because Kelly will soon no longer be an occupant of the building.
When asked if Kelly will be dismissed from the lawsuit before the next hearing in the case, which is May 2, city Law Department spokesman Bill McCaffrey said, “The city will take into consideration occupancy of the building at that time.”
Kelly has been the sole tenant of the building at 219 N. Justine St.
In that case, Judge Patrice Ball-Reed last month restricted access to the building from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. after city officials found dozens of building code violations during an inspection on Jan. 16. The city contends the building is being used as a residence, despite being zoned only for commercial use.
Attorney Steve Greenberg, who also represents Kelly, argued that those “bankers’ hours” were not conducive to Kelly’s creative process. In an affidavit, Kelly said the restrictions were “tantamount to a stop-work order.”
The warehouse has come under scrutiny in recent weeks since the airing of a documentary series on Lifetime that detailed a host of allegations of sexual impropriety by Kelly — mostly involving underage girls. He has repeatedly denied the allegations.
Earlier this month, Los Angeles-based attorney Michael Avenatti said he turned over to law enforcement officials in Cook County a sex tape that purportedly shows Kelly assaulting an underage girl.
The Cook County state’s attorney’s office has declined to comment on Avenatti’s claim.
Avenatti tweeted Thursday that he plans to hold a news conference in Chicago Friday to discuss accusations against Kelly.
Kelly was acquitted of charges in 2008 over a separate sex tape that officials claimed showed him engaging in sex acts with a 14-year-old girl.