By Opportunity Zone Magazine Staff
SoLa Impact was established to create market returns for investors while revitalizing urban areas to develop high-quality affordable housing in low-income communities. The $100-million SoLa Impact Opportunity Zone Fund’s mission is multifamily rehab and development, as well as helping create jobs and revitalize neighborhoods.
“When we learned about the Opportunity Zone legislation a little over a year ago, we examined our real estate portfolio and realized that a significant portion was already in designated Opportunity Zones and, as a result, we launched our $100-million Qualified Opportunity Fund,” says Sherri Francois, who serves as director at the I CAN! Foundation, SoLa Impact’s nonprofit affiliate.
Francois says $96 million has been raised so far. SoLa Impact mainly focuses on affordable housing in urban areas but also looks at commercial development and mixed-use projects. SoLa acquired a 29-unit building with 25 vacancies located close to the University of Southern California for $3.8 million. They began renovating the building last month, says Francois.
She says they have also acquired several properties and plan to add 75 residential units by taking advantage of Los Angeles’ recent transit-oriented development density bonuses.
SoLa Impact acquired approximately 100,000 square feet of commercial space to build a Social Impact OZ campus, which they are calling the Beehive. They expect Beehive to attract operating OZ companies, especially those with a social mission.
“The Beehive is a 90,000-square-foot maker space in the heart of South L.A. currently in development and designed to pollinate the South L.A. economic sector by creating a cutting-edge center where innovation, collaboration, workforce development and learning bloom,” says Francois. “Located in the historic Goodyear building, the Beehive will honor the vitality of this iconic neighborhood and help propel our community.”
SoLa is also developing a technology and media center to be a cornerstone tenet of the Beehive. She says its goal is to close the access gap by providing hands-on educational opportunities for youth to work with state-of-the art technologies and give new access points for job seekers and job creators to collaborate locally. The center will also offer a computer skills program for adults and GED prep, says Francois.
For the past decade, SoLa Impact has been investing in South Central L.A., Watts, Compton and other historically disadvantaged communities. Francois says they have “developed a proven track record that leverages data-driven social impact strategies to deliver superior financial returns.”