Event Heaven: Deluxe DeJoria Center Regales Mountain Visitors

DeJoria Center Great Lawn fire pit and Dance Barn

High Star Ranch in Kamas, Utah, didn’t start out to be the home of a high-end event space that houses everything from weddings to Sundance Film Festival showings.

The original plan in 2005, by primary investor John Paul DeJoria and his real estate partners Tom Grimmett and Mark Fischer, was a luxury equestrian residential development tucked into a mountain hideaway. And then the recession hit.

“We found that, during the recession we had a lot of interest from people that wanted to rent a barn on the property for weddings,” Mark says. “That led to the idea of an events center.”


DeJoria Center Arena Concert Setup

The original plan for the DeJoria Center at High Star Ranch called for a $3 million renovation of the existing barn. The team brought in Rick Brighton with Brighton Architectural Group to develop the plan for the remodel. Rick had worked with Mark in the past on cabin properties and was excited for the evolutionary project.

“Superintendent Fred Lucas never said, ‘No.’ He said that if we wanted something, he would figure out how to do it.”
Mark Fischer
Partner with Tri Star, LLC – High Star Ranch

“It was a legacy project for me,” he says. “There was a lot of discussion that led to it being the size and scope that it is and it was an enjoyable challenge.”

What originally started as a plan to add some bathrooms and renovate the exterior turned into a $14 million masterpiece where every detail adds to the experience of guests.

“Whether it was the acoustics, the lighting, the stage or the kitchen, we paid for the best money could buy,” Mark says. “Don’t get me wrong. We did our research and made sure it was the best, but the long-term functionality was never compromised.”


DeJoria Center Josephines Room

Not only did the building have to be adjusted for functionality — going from an equestrian holding facility to a lounge for Hollywood elites — but it had to be improved from an engineering standpoint. To accomplish this, Rick and his team developed an idea to support the walls of the existing barn with new construction, improving seismic strength and adding aesthetic beauty.

There was also the modern, technical version of a barn raising when Layton suggested adding more headroom for guests by bringing the roof to the maximum allowed height. “That was an idea suggested by Layton and it had significant architectural consequences,” Rick says. “It gives a better experience to everyone that walks in. It was a great design build job where we were able to work closely together with the owners and Layton to get the best results.”


DeJoria Center Willow Room

John Paul DeJoria became a billionaire by providing customers, clients and patrons with the best in every industry he’s involved in. With the support of Tom Grimmett, the DeJoria Center fits well with the high-end reputation of its namesake.

“We were very fortunate to have John Paul DeJoria and Tom Grimmett catch the vision of the project,” Mark says. “That is what allowed us to get the end result we’re all so excited about.”

In fact, some members of the construction team — including Mark and Rick — made a trip to Guadalajara, Mexico, to visit the Patrón Hacienda & Distillery and see the level of quality associated with the DeJoria name.

“We saw John Paul’s level of expectation and everyone caught the fever,” Rick says. “Mark and I couldn’t do anything less than something amazing. It wouldn’t have done justice to the DeJoria name.”

Having the financial backing of John Paul and Tom allowed decisions to be made based on quality.

“The opportunity to convert an existing horse riding arena into the DeJoria Center with a Vegas-style stage and A/V package is a once-in-a- lifetime opportunity. It was a real pleasure working with Mark Fischer and Tom Grimmett who spared no expense to see their vision come to reality. Rick Brighton’s ability to put their vision on paper made our job easy,” says Brett Partridge, vice president at Layton.


DeJoria Center Outdoor Fountain

Opened in March 2016, the DeJoria Center has already become a world-class entertainment venue in a rural setting — conjuring images of Red Rocks in Colorado or Southfork Ranch in Dallas — and offers a distinctly Park City feel without the traffic of Park City Main Street.

The construction of the project has also been recognized as a regional winner of Best Projects from ENR magazine.

“When we started this project, I told John Paul that I thought we needed to go big or go home,” Mark says. “Well, he went a helluva lot bigger than we thought. It’s a project that I will always remember because I won’t ever do another one like it again.”


Mark and Rick both knew they needed the right contractor for a job of this size and this evolution. Layton fit the bill. “I wish I would have had a clear vision from Day One, but I didn’t,” Rick says. “Layton had a can-do attitude where we felt nothing was impossible. That made all the difference.”

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