Leeds has an excellent reputation for both real estate and entrepreneurship, and in his time teaching at the University of Colorado, Kim Koehn has been approached plenty of times by students who want to start the next great venture in the Front Range.
Koehn instead tells them to leave.
“I always say, go to a larger market, where you’ll see new and different things,” said Kim, an adjunct professor in the CU Real Estate Center. “As an entrepreneur, the more narrow your background, the less likely you are to succeed. You can always find your way back to Colorado.”
It’s great advice—and Koehn should know. Before starting K2Ventures—an investment and development firm focused on small and midsize Colorado properties—he enjoyed a successful corporate real estate career in Chicago and Denver.
It all started in a city planning class at CU, though, where he met Gail, whom he followed east after graduation. “She told me if I wanted to stay with her, I’d have to move,” Kim said, “so of course, I did.”
While Kim built his career in Chicago, Gail also worked in the industry—in architecture, property management and, as she put it, as general contractor when the couple rehabbed a historic home they bought.
But Boulder was never far from their hearts.
“We’re fortunate that we were able to find our way back to Colorado after 14 years in Chicago,” Gail Koehn said. “And it’s given us opportunities to be involved with our alma mater that we otherwise might not have.”
The Koehns are staunch supporters of Leeds. The Kim and Gail Koehn Leadership Award is given to the top real estate student each year, and in addition to his faculty service, Kim Koehn has served as executive director of CUREC and chair of its council.
“It’s fun to have a pulse on the next generation,” he said. “I started teaching and, all of a sudden, we grew this network of young people. Sometimes, if I have a question, rather than calling the head of a company, I’ll call a former student—and oftentimes, they'll have a better, more applicable answer.”
Given their real estate background, it’s no surprise that the Koehns are most intrigued by the new Rustandy Building, connecting the engineering and business schools at CU.
“I come from a family of engineers, and both our daughters ended up being engineers,” Gail Koehn said. “The collaboration between the schools is going to be really amazing, and I think the new building will help the university point to the strength of both programs.”