CHICAGO -- An expanding investigation of Chicago-based entertainer R. Kelly on Wednesday now includes city code violations at a building where Kelly is a tenant and the ABC7 I-Team has obtained pictures from the inside.
The building code violations were found after city inspectors descended on the near West Side warehouse where R. Kelly is the only tenant. All of this came about after the latest public accusations that Kelly has been sexually involved with underage girls-allegations he denies. City officials went to court to obtain permission for an inspection of the building he rents.
Authorities late Wednesday said that the building is non-compliant and rehab work was done without permits.
About 10 city Inspectors entered Kelly's leased property this afternoon. They were looking into reports that Kelly used the zoned warehouse as a recording studio, living quarters and a party place. Inside the 8,000 square foot space, photos show ample room for all of that, including a kitchen and dining area, furniture and games. Pictures obtained by the I-Team were from sales brochures for the property. It's now listed at $3.9 million, the price slashed a half-million dollars from it's original listing, but still boasting a high profile tenant in the building.
Late Wednesday the city said: "At today'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."
Neighbors have said young girls are frequently seen congregating in the alley behind the building, and the controversial entertainers relationships with young women were central to the Lifetime TV docuseries alleging sexual improprieties between Kelly and the underage girls.
A man claiming to be R. Kelly's step brother said Wednesday there was no such wrongdoing but police and prosecutors have stepped up their investigation since the TV series.
"My brother not going down for this crap," said the professed relative, whose name was not revealed.
One of Kelly's unnamed associates was seen Wednesday morning removing computer equipment from the building.
Then a few hours later came the building inspectors. It had been nearly eight years since the city had been to the warehouse according to building department records. At that time there were numerous, typical violations found for such a 90-year old building, all apparently addressed.
An amended city complaint is now being prepared with further violations to be announced at the next court date on Tuesday.
The Near West Side site is only getting attention because R. Kelly had rented it and was expected to comply with laws and codes according to his lease. Regardless, those legal troubles seem minor when compared to what Cook County prosecutors are looking at. He has not been charged with any crimes and the timing of the criminal investigation now underway is not apparent.
A look inside R. Kelly's West Loop studio; city inspectors find violations