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R. Kelly attorney: ‘Spurious’ allegations debunked in city warehouse inspection

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

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

R. Kelly’s attorney on Thursday sought to cast the city’s inspection of the Near West Side warehouse rented by the embattled R&B superstar as “uneventful,” despite the city’s contention that inspectors found evidence of several building code violations during their hour-long inspection a day earlier.

“As we earlier indicated, the spurious statements that individuals were living in that subject premises were debunked by the inspection yesterday,” said Melvin Sims, Kelly’s attorney in property matters. “There is no one who lives in that premises, nor has anyone lived in that premises as a residential property.”

RELATED: Sun-Times coverage of R. Kelly abuse allegations, acquittal of child porn charges

Less than 24 hours earlier, the Chicago Department of Buildings issued a statement saying that, during their Wednesday visit, “city inspectors observed building code violations including evidence of residential use which is non-compliant with the zoning code and work performed without approved plans or permits.”

Sims took issue with the city’s characterization of the inspectors’ findings.

“I take that statement not to mean that there are people living in the premises, but, obviously, that code or zoning measures were indicating some form of residential modification,” he said.

Last week, city attorneys filed an emergency motion in Cook County Circuit Court, asking a judge to grant them access to the building. They alleged that, though the building is zoned for industrial uses, it was serving as a residence. Also, city attorneys said, a recording studio inside was illegal and was built without a permit.

Given the inspectors’ findings, attorneys for the city are expected to file an amended complaint next Tuesday.

The city made no mention of the studio after the inspection.

A copy of Kelly’s lease, included in the case file, shows that Midwest Commercial Funding, the company that owns the building and is currently selling it, gave Kelly permission to make several alterations to the property that were at the heart of the city’s motion.

“Landlord hereby grants permission to Tenant to modify the existing recording studios to meet Tenant’s specific needs as well as create an apartment type area on the second floor,” the lease reads.

The warehouse at 219 N. Justine, where Kelly is the only tenant, has come under scrutiny in recent weeks since the airing of a documentary series on Lifetime that detailed a host of allegations of abusive behavior and sexual impropriety by Kelly. He has repeatedly denied the allegations and has not been charged with any crimes since he was acquitted of child pornography charges in 2008.

Court records show Kelly has until Monday to pay $166,981 in back rent to the owner of the property at 219 N. Justine St. Additionally, he must also pay $6,122 in attorneys’ fees and $780 in court costs.

Sims has been in contact with the attorney for Midwest Commercial Funding to discuss the money Kelly owes, but he could not say if the singer has made any back rent payments yet or if he has plans to do so.