The Chicago Department of Buildings said inspectors found evidence that people have been living in R. Kelly’s leased Chicago warehouse, even though the space is not zoned for that purpose.
The inspection, which took place Wednesday, was prompted by allegations that the warehouse was illegally housing a recording studio and a residence, despite being zoned for industrial use only. A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings, Gregg Cunningham, told Rolling Stone that inspectors found a number of code violations at the warehouse, though he declined to say what proof there was that the space had been used as a residence.
“The Department of Buildings takes this issue seriously and has responded quickly to determine the current use of the building and whether it’s compliant with City code,” said Cunningham. “Building code violations can range from minor infractions to issues that threaten the safety of public, occupants and first responders. At [Wednesday’s] inspection, 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.”
The city is set to elaborate on the violations and findings at a court hearing scheduled for Tuesday, January 22nd.
A lawyer for R. Kelly, Melvin L. Sims III, pushed back against the city’s findings, telling Rolling Stone that the inspection was “uneventful.” He added, “The spurious statements that individuals were living in that subject premises were debunked by the inspection yesterday. No one was found to be living in the subject premises. And of course, no one lives in the subject premises … We look forward to returning to court … and working to bring this matter to successful closure.”
Simms also argued that even if the city characterizes an alleged zoning discrepancy as “residential,” it doesn’t prove that someone was actually living there. And while he insisted that no one was living at the warehouse, he noted, “It should not be surprising that the space included places for sleeping or taking breaks.”
The City of Chicago’s inspection of R. Kelly’s warehouse comes as authorities in Chicago and Atlanta begin to investigate the allegations of sexual and physical abuse against the singer in the wake of the Lifetime docuseries, Surviving R. Kelly. However, the inspection of Kelly’s warehouse is not tied to any possible criminal investigation into the singer.