The renovated brick school will become a dedicated maker’s space for the entire community. Get excited.
The Godfrey’s are big dreamers and soon, one of those big dreams is going to become a reality. The historic Draper Park School, a landmark situated on Pioneer Road between Fort Street and 900 East, and once a gathering place for the Draper community, will be reborn as the Dream Factory at Draper Park. Under the visionary direction of new owners Shelley and Gregg Godfrey, and partner Andrew Renfro, the school will be the center of the town again, maintaining the integrity of its historical roots while pushing the frontiers of creativity, originality and quirky fun.
Just a few years ago, the city was on the brink of demolishing the historic school. It was an asbestos-ridden edifice with no clear utilitarian purpose. Demolition was the path of least resistance, costing the city only $300,000, versus millions for a full renovation. The expenditure could not be justified and for a while, well-meaning Draperites cried out to save it through petition and promotion at local events like Draper Days, but time was evaporating quickly.
At about the same time, the Godfrey’s were in search of new office space for their company Godfrey Entertainment. Their sagacious neighbor Jon Lee, owner of J.P. Lee Fine Jewelry on Pioneer Road, suggested that they buy the school. It wasn’t really even for sale. Yet, the idea was appealing. The Godfrey’s contacted the mayor to see if it was possible. He said that the Draper Historic Preservation Commission had first rights of refusal on it. Wasting no time, they immediately contacted Katie Shell, a commission member, to get permission to buy it. Shell was thrilled and fully supported them. The sale was a Christmas miracle because two weeks before the January 1, 2015 demolition date, the Godfrey’s became the owners.
Gregg Godfrey, an unabashed adrenaline junkie, is a film studies graduate from the University of Utah. He had a dream to make movies and for six years he and his wife Shelley toughed it out in the cutthroat entertainment world of Hollywood, banging on doors, trying to get into the film world, to no avail. Fearless and relentless, Godfrey decided to go out on his own and make movies himself. With the full support of Shelley, he bought editing equipment and made a documentary in 1995 about the history and legends of the motocross scene called Legacy. They lived in a trailer park in Valencia, California and Shelley would pick up copies of the movies and ship them off to different distribution centers.
“We got sponsors and we just went for it,” remembers Shelley.
After the success of the documentary, Godfrey started making action sports movies that were funny and filled with crazy stunts, with titles like Children of a Metal God and Supercross Exposed. People loved it. This was before the X Games became an American mainstay and Godfrey was on the forefront of this type of real-life, death-defying entertainment. He also discovered Travis Pastrana, a 14 year-old motocross phenom. Godfrey knew he was special and soon had him starring in his own movie, Travis and the Nitro Circus. The series was a hit, Pastrana was a bona fide star, and with new partner Jeremy Rawle, a high school friend and the eventual assembly of daredevils including Special Greg, Erik Roner, Streetbike Tommy, Jolene Van Vugt, Andy Bell, and Jim DeChamp, the Nitro Circus brand was solidified into a gang of lovable, albeit completely nutty, thrill-seeking misfits. MTV asked Godfrey’s group to film an Evel Knievel special with Johnny Knoxville. MTV loved it and this led to their own hit show in 2009. As FMX World describes it, “Nitro Circus revolves around the world’s greatest freestyle motocross rider Travis Pastrana and his crew of top action sport athlete buddies and enablers. Imagine if Evel Knievel and five of his equally insane buddies had a television show where they tried to top each other’s stunts week after week. That’s Nitro Circus.” Now there is a successful touring circuit and a television spin off based on the tour.
As for Gregg Godfrey, he has had his own daredevil success independent of the Nitro Circus crew. In November 2007, he won the Baja 1000, a solo 1,280 mile off-road motorbike race, in world record time, passing his buddy Travis Pastrana near the end of the race when Pastrana’s engine blew. Godfrey also holds the world record for jumping a semi-truck 166 feet on a ramp, which he set last year in Montana.
In 2014, the Godfrey’s sold a majority of their shares of Nitro Circus. Gregg Godfrey still has a creative voice in the franchise and part ownership, but is not bogged down by the day-to-day details. However, he is still just as tenacious as ever and has big plans in store for Godfrey Entertainment. Part of that revolves around the Dream Factory at Draper Park. Godfrey is once again knocking on Hollywood doors, trying to sell a show about his crazy family called The Godfrey Clan, a new brand for the business, and they hope to shoot many scenes from the Dream Factory, a sort of home base for the reality show, which would be similar to Duck Dynasty or Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory. It would be about the 12 nieces and nephews, including their kids, who were essentially crash test dummies for Gregg, growing up in the crazy stunt world, but focusing on family dynamics. The stage and gymnasium would be used for filming the show and other random projects already planned or yet to be imagined.
Shelley Godfrey is the creative commandant behind the school’s transformation. She is dedicated to reusing as much of the original building as possible and maintaining the integrity of its historic charm, with some modern updates as well. At first they just planned to rent out the unused space, but as the building has started to take shape, the vision has expanded into something more ambitious and synergistic.
“We want it to be this kind of boutique-style place of creative minds, so we aren’t just going to rent it to a doctor’s office or something. Everything has to be original and we want it to be a creative space.”
Shelley imagines having things like a recording studio, high-tech internet firms, interior designers, photographers, a wood shop, and tons of educational classes, to name a few. She wants original and creative retail firms to be like-minded, companies that echo the originality and creativity of the Godfrey Entertainment brand. The Dream Factory will also have on-demand office spaces that can be rented for short amounts of time.
In addition, there will be unique food truck type restaurants in the 50s wing and an old-fashioned candy kitchen. As Katie Shell has observed, “What Shelley is doing is so exciting. She will make it look new and fresh and appealing, a very unique space.” The dream is big and with the success of the newly minted school, it will truly become a treasured center of the city once again, a place where new dreams can be realized for the Godfrey’s and the entire community.