SoLa Impact plans second complex in Harbor Gateway

Developer pivots to new properties from former rehab business model

SoLa Impact founder and CEO Martin Muoto and 248 West Imperial Highway (SoLa Impact, Google Maps)
SoLa Impact founder and CEO Martin Muoto and 248 West Imperial Highway (SoLa Impact, Google Maps)

UPDATED, Aug. 24, 2022, 4:48 p.m.: SoLa Impact, a developer that has focused on building complexes in minority neighborhoods, is planning another project in the South L.A. area of Harbor Gateway, just a month after revealing plans to build a separate property.

The development firm proposes to build a 166-unit complex at 248 West Imperial Highway, according to plans filed with the city of L.A. last week.

The plans come as the firm has pivoted to just developing its own housing projects, rather than rehabbing old complexes.

“For all the wrong reasons, rehabbing in L.A. has become very difficult to do,” said SoLA Impact’s CEO, Martin Muoto.

Though its previous funds focused on renovating old complexes, its newest Black Impact Fund — which counts PayPal among its investors — will focus on building new properties.

Since the beginning of 2021, the firm has faced at least five lawsuits that allege neglect and uninhabitable living conditions at some of SoLa’s buildings, court documents show. SoLa Impact has settled one of the suits for an undisclosed sum.

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It hasn’t deterred the firm from wanting to put a shovel in the ground.

SoLa’s newest plans in Harbor Gateway call for building on three vacant lots owned by Dennis and Dora Bordenave, records show. SoLa is planning to build apartments with ground-floor retail and 85 parking spaces. The firm has not yet bought the property.

The firm was initially planning to build more than 200 units, but had a dispute with REIT American Tower over a cellphone tower on the site and could not come to an agreement, Muoto said.

On the other side of the same block, SoLa Impact plans to build a 121-unit complex at 110 West Imperial Highway, replacing three commercial buildings on site, according to plans filed with the city last month.

SoLa Impact also plans to build an 80-unit complex at 11001 South Vermont Avenue in Westmont, made with prefabricated modular units, as well as a 195-unit complex in Park Mesa Heights.

This story has been updated to include comments from SoLa Impact CEO Martin Muoto.