JD Lopez didn’t get to bed until about 2:30 a.m. last Friday.
He had a good reason for staying up late, however. Fourteen months after initially planning to open his business, Lopez and indoor playground Jungle Jam held a soft opening and a ribbon-cutting last Friday before fully opening over the weekend. The 25,000-square-foot space, a former Sears Outlet store at 9227 Coors Blvd. NW, that had sat empty since last March was finally filled with children — and some adults — on slides, in crawl tunnels, and on the trampoline courts.
“All the emotions that I felt over the next 14 months all came to me at one time,” he said. “When [the children] come in, they’re wide-eyed, excited and can’t wait to get in. And when it’s time to leave, they’re teary-eyed and their parents are having to chase them to get to leave.”
The opening was delayed because of public health orders from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Lopez launched Jungle Jam with his wife, Rania, as they tried to fill a void of family entertainment options west of the Rio Grande. The two came up with the concept after seeing an indoor play space in Pasadena, California, in 2016. Their initial investment in the business was within the $1 million to $2 million range, Lopez previously told Business First in 2019.
To make matters worse, because he didn’t open before the shutdowns, Lopez and Jungle Jam didn’t have employees and therefore didn’t qualify for the many relief programs that were made available. Lopez said he tried reaching out to the government organizations that could assist Jungle Jam, but nothing materialized.
“It was kind of heartbreaking,” he said.
Clayton King, then of Base 5 Retail Partners and now of King Capital Commercial Real Estate, represented Jungle Jam as the broker in the transaction. Business First reported that Albuquerque-based Insight Construction and TripleCapital Commercial Finance Group were the general contractor and loan consultant, respectively.
While he waited for Jungle Jam to open over the past months, Lopez has gotten involved locally. Business First reported Lopez was a founding board member of the newly launched Albuquerque Westside Business Association to connect area businesses, neighborhoods and schools to better work with one another.
“I feel fortunate to finally be open, and we’re looking forward to making a go of this,” Lopez said.