One week after Lifetime released the documentary Surviving R. Kelly and set off a renewed wave of public scrutiny into the singer’s alleged history of sexual abuse, a judge has granted an emergency motion allowing Chicago building instructors to access the recording studio featured in the docuseries.
Chicago’s buildings department will investigate whether Kelly has converted his Near West Side warehouse into a recording studio as well as living quarters without obtaining the proper permits, after city law enforcement officials received an anonymous 311 call on Wednesday claiming that two people were illegally living in the commercially zoned building, according to the Chicago Tribune. City attorney Kimberly Roberts told the local newspaper that “because of the issue of public safety, we need to get inside and assess what’s going on.” If Kelly is found to have been in violation of the terms of the lease, he could be fined up to $1,000 a day per violation. “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.
The 8,000-square-foot studio is currently listed by Berkshire Hathaway as for sale for around $4 million and rented at the moment by a “high profile tenant,” with amenities including a “fully built out recording studio, lounge and full kitchen.” Kelly’s lawyers did not object to the mandate of inspection handed down on Friday, but argued that the situation should not have been characterized as an emergency.
Per court records seen by the Tribune, the building’s owner is, in a separate case, trying to evict Kelly for failure to pay rent. Earlier this week, the judge overseeing that case said Kelly owes the building $167,000.
Kelly has not commented on either building-related case, but has denied the allegations of criminal wrongdoing brought forth by several alleged sexual abuse victims and their families. Since Lifetime’s documentary came out, a number of artists including Lady Gaga and Phoenix have publicly apologized for collaborating with Kelly in the past, and the singer’s estranged daughter Buku Abi called her father a “monster” in an Instagram story posted on Thursday (Rolling Stone).