Jake Jabs gave CU Denver $12 million and the school is building an event center that will bear his name
By Joe Rubino
The Denver Post
It already has a center dedicated to entrepreneurship named for him. Now the University of Colorado Denver Business School is building a downtown event hall that will bear the name of local furniture tycoon Jake Jabs.
The university broke ground Tuesday on an addition to its building at 1475 Lawrence St. that will eventually house a 300-plus-seat event space, two large classrooms, a catering kitchen, business incubator space and a third-story auditorium. When it opens in late 2019, the Jake Jabs Event Centerwill also serve as the new headquarters for the American Furniture Warehouse founder’s eponymous entrepreneurship center.
The event center will cost $11 million to build, according to CU Denver. Jabs gave the university a $12 million gift. Half of it will go to construction costs and the remaining half will be invested into programs, research and scholarships at the entrepreneurship center.
“The gift impacts our students, faculty, and staff by providing the resources to strengthen academic offerings in entrepreneurship,” Rohan Christie-David, dean of the CU Denver Business School, said in a statement.
The event hall, designed by architects with international firm Stantec, is being built on the site of a courtyard that faces the alley between Lawrence and Larimer streets. CU Denver intends to be part of the city’s “functional alley movement,” officials said in a news release. That same alley has been targeted by Larimer Square owner Jeff Hermanson and partners as the potential pedestal for one of two tall buildings along the historic downtown block.
Jabs, known for starring in TV commercials for his big-box furniture store chain alongside tigers, chimps and other exotic animals, has donated to higher education in multiple states.
“With the growing interest in entrepreneurship education at this level, this new addition of the event center, auditorium and additional classrooms will make the Jake Jabs Center for Entrepreneurship and CU Denver Business School bigger and better than ever,” Jabs said in a statement.