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R. Kelly moves out of Near West Side studio: attorney

The warehouse rented by R. Kelly at 219 N. Justine. | Sun-Times file photo

Weeks after a Cook County judge restricted its hours of access, embattled R&B star R. Kelly has vacated the studio space he rented on the Near West Side, according to one of his attorneys.

“R. Kelly can never be creative and do his job under these circumstances which leaves him no choice but to leave his building,” attorney Steve Greenberg said in a statement released Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier this month, Judge Patrice Ball-Reed ordered that the building at 219 N. Justine St. — where Kelly was sole tenant — be accessed only from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Initially, the judge had imposed a 9 a.m.-to-5 p.m. order.

Kelly’s attorneys argued that those “bankers’ hours” were not conducive to their client’s creative process.

Ball-Reed replied: “I’m sorry that his muse doesn’t operate during those hours.”

City officials enter the studio warehouse rented by singer R. Kelly at 219 N. Justine for an inspection, Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

City officials enter the studio warehouse rented by singer R. Kelly at 219 N. Justine for an inspection, Wednesday afternoon, Jan. 16, 2019. | Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The judge restricted access to the building after city officials found dozens of building code violations during an inspection Jan. 16. The city contends the building is being used as a residence, despite being zoned only for commercial use.

During two inspections, officials found two beds inside. Kelly’s attorneys have said both had been removed.

Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city’s Law Department, said Kelly’s decision to leave the studio will not change the city’s efforts “to have the dangerous and hazardous conditions abated.”

“The violations don’t disappear simply because the tenant is leaving,” McCaffrey said.

Photo taken during city inspection of R. Kelly's rented warehouse

The city released photos taken during an inspection Jan. 16 of the Near West Side warehouse being rented by R. Kelly. | Provided

In an affidavit submitted earlier this month, Kelly testified he hadn’t used the studio space since mid-January, when Ball-Reed imposed the 9 a.m.-to-5 p.m. restriction.

He said Ball-Reed’s restriction — “tantamount to a stop-work order” — also hurt his employees’ ability to make money.

“The tenant’s made the choice not to work,” Ball-Reed said. “That’s got nothing to do with me.”

The warehouse has come under scrutiny in recent weeks since the airing of a documentary series on Lifetime that detailed a series of allegations of sexual impropriety by Kelly — many involving underage girls. He has repeatedly denied the allegations and has not been charged with any crimes since being acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008.

The building owner, Midwest Commercial Funding, sued Kelly last year, alleging he owed more than $170,000 in back rent and other fees.

Court records show Kelly had until Jan. 21 to pay $166,981 to the property owner. Additionally, he must also pay $6,122 in attorneys’ fees and $780 in court costs. It remains unclear if any of those payments were made.

Photo taken during city inspection of R. Kelly's rented warehouse

The city released photos taken during an inspection Jan. 16 of the Near West Side warehouse being rented by R. Kelly. The city has, for now, barred the use of the second floor of the warehouse, citing the condition of stairs to that upper level. | Provided