Leelanau.com: Think Globally, Surf Locally

Leelanau.com Blog
leelanau county news • traverse city news • michigan news

February 28, 2014

Sugar Loaf's Downhill Run

Filed under: cedar,Leelanau,michigan,news,Real Estate,skiing,sugar loaf,winter — Andrew McFarlane @ 9:16 am
Skiers navigate the moguls at Sugar Loaf ski resort in happier, and more solvent, days. (Flickr photo by Don Harrison; used under Creative Commons license)

Skiers navigate the moguls at Sugar Loaf ski resort in happier, and more solvent, days. (Flickr photo by Don Harrison; used under Creative Commons license)

Jacob Wheeler has three articles on Sugar Loaf in this week's Bridge Magazine. Downhill Run for Sugar Loaf begins:

Sugar Loaf’s chairlifts sit idle, their wooden seats and red paint chipping away as the seasons pass. The only skiers and snowboarders here are thrill-seeking trespassers who scale the mountain on foot. The warming huts at the top of Sugar Loaf are boarded up, with broken beer bottles and bonfire pits decorating their interior.

Elsewhere in Leelanau County, tourism and business are booming. “Good Morning America” dubbed the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as “the most beautiful place in America” in 2011, leading to record tourism the following summer and record profits for area restaurants and shops. Nearby Traverse City draws visitors from around the world to its film and comedy festivals, and its wineries and unique restaurants.

Against this backdrop, Sugar Loaf, listed by a local realtor at $8.7 million, remains the (white) elephant in the room. The resort once supported hundreds of local jobs during the cold months of the ski season, when warm-weather tourists stayed away. Like the abandoned Packard Plant in Detroit or the Hiawatha Iron Ore Mine in the Upper Peninsula, Sugar Loaf’s remains are now a blight on the landscape, a missed economic opportunity for the region and an embarrassment to its community.

Closed since 2000 following a string of light winters, Sugar Loaf has been courted and abandoned by a revolving cast of mysterious owners and suitors with backstories that read like a crime novel. The resort’s would-be saviors have included a convicted felon, a Las Vegas tax cheat and his new wife, a teenage lounge singer from New Zealand, the owner of an addiction treatment center and religious squatters. None have been able to reopen the place and, even today, nobody is precisely sure who owns the resort.

Making Sugar Loaf’s revival even more remote is a disastrous business deal that divorced the ski hill and lodge from the nearby townhouses, golf course and wastewater treatment plant, lessening the ability of any would-be owner to earn warm weather income from the resort.

“Everybody’s just sick of the dog and pony show,” says Karl Kitchen, who runs the “Friends of Sugar Loaf” Facebook page, which boasts 1,825 members. “They’re sick of the circus that has surrounded who owns it, and what’s gonna happen to it. Sugar Loaf Resort, as far as Leelanau County is concerned, is a fruit rotting on the vine, and people are getting sick of watching it rot.”

Read on for much more and also check out a look at what it takes to have a successful resort in northern Michigan (think summer) and his recounting of tried and failed efforts to re-open this fallen Leelanau angel.

February 7, 2014

Polselli admits to Sugar Loaf Ownership

Filed under: Leelanau,michigan,news,Real Estate,skiing,sugar loaf — Andrew McFarlane @ 5:22 pm

Here's the beginning of Polselli, Rock Investment Advisors, admit to Sugar Loaf ownership; two suitors vying for purchase:

“Liko is like someone who’s dating a girl, but thinks and says he’s engaged to her because he doesn’t want anyone else to go after her. He sees the potential in Sugar Loaf. Half the battle is wanting it. The other half is having the money.” — Remo Polselli 

SugarLoafLiftGraffitiIn a rare and extensive interview with the Glen Arbor Sun today, Remo Polselli admitted that he is the owner of Sugar Loaf resort, through his share in Rock Investment Advisors, LLC. Polselli did not specify the extent of his ownership, or who else is involved in the corporation, but added that Liko Smith has no — nor has had any — part of Rock Investments.

Glen Arbor realtor John Peppler confirmed that he has been representing Rock Investment Advisors and Polselli. Peppler currently lists the long-shuttered ski resort at $8.72 million (here's a link to the listing). Peppler represented the owners during this Wednesday’s inspection of Sugar Loaf, which was conducted by Leelanau County code inspector Steve Haugen.

Peppler said that the inspection revealed cosmetic damage, and speculated that much of the lodge’s interior will need to be redone, but said that Haugen found the building to be stable. Despite rumors to the contrary, the inspection found no sewage leaks and no evidence of rodents. Peppler said that Haugen didn’t find even a single tablespoon of mouse feces.

Haugen will release the inspection report sometime this month. The first recipient will probably be former Sugar Loaf owner Kate Wickstrom, whose name is still listed on the ownership deed. Wickstrom transferred the deed to Polselli last March, in hopes of washing her hands clean of the resort, but Polselli never registered the deed with Leelanau County.

Visit the Glen Arbor Sun to read the rest of the feature and definitely stay tuned to the Sun for the latest on the Sugar Loaf saga! In related news make that satire, extreme CEO Liko Smith has apparently copied and pasted his own press release from last fall to "fire" Remo Polselli. This would be funny if it wasn't so sad.

Looks like I got taken by Dave at Agnarchy.com who more or less re-posted an earlier press release from Liko Smith with Polselli inserted in place of the last person fired from the project.

Well played, Dave! I still think it would be funny if it wasn't such a sad state of affairs. It's at the point where I'd believe these were the new owners

October 4, 2013

Sugar Loaf Deal Lacking Investor?

Filed under: Leelanau,michigan,news,skiing,sugar loaf — Andrew McFarlane @ 8:34 am

Sugar Loaf for SaleJacob Wheeler at the Glen Arbor Sun has a new article that pokes some serious holes in Liko Smith's bid to purchase Sugar Loaf:

Oscar Peters — the British-born billionaire international banker who was helping Eneliko “Liko” Smith launch Las Vegas Airways (LV Air) before Smith turned his attention toward Sugar Loaf — has dropped out of the game. Peters’ exit might leave the West Coast hotelier with no viable way to acquire the long-shuttered Leelanau County ski resort.

Liko Smith had advertised Peters’ financial support on his Facebook page, “The Rok at Sugar Loaf” earlier this week, claiming that he was “partnering with Billionaire Financier Oscar Peters.” But those words have since been removed. In fact, Peters never even knew his name was being floated as an investor for Sugar Loaf.

Peters called the Glen Arbor Sun, via Skype from Sweden, Thursday afternoon to categorically deny that he had any interest in buying Sugar Loaf. Peters had never even heard of Sugar Loaf before Smith published a press release on Saturday via PRNewswire, announcing that he had acquired the ski resort, with Peters’ help.

“We are not involved with Sugar Loaf and we will never be,” Peters said. “You may have a beautiful state in Michigan, but I’m not interested in the resort. Mr. Smith went behind my back.”

Read on for more, including the back & forth letters between Smith & Peters and Smith's response where he claims (in part):

“My investor for Sugar Loaf is a real person that has walked to the top of Sugar Loaf with me and felt the moldy toilets. Not a paper trader from England that has never set foot in Michigan”. As to Jacob Wheeler, my hat is off to him for his investigative skills but I give him an F on objectivity. However, if he or anyone else wants to check my sources, you have my number if you’re interested in the truth” This is why people like me, stay away from reporters. Now let’s get back to doing the real work of opening this mountain” says Smith.

And can we just add that Jacob is at the top of the game in terms of journalism in the area right now? He's digging deeper and getting more on the stories he covers.

September 29, 2013

Sugar Loaf purchased, opening slated November 2014

Filed under: cedar,Leelanau,michigan,news,skiing,sugar loaf,traverse city,winter — Andrew McFarlane @ 11:35 am

Sugar Loaf.
Sugar Loaf. by Pierre Bourgault

Apparently, long-shuttered Sugar Loaf Resort in Leelanau County has been purchased by Eneliko Sean "Liko" Smith. Via their press release on PR Newswire:

Mr. Smith and partners have purchased the property for an undisclosed price. The purchase includes all assets of Sugar Loaf to include property, buildings, ski lifts, and all existing inventory. Combined with adjoining land, the resort totals over 560 acres. The property boasts a private aircraft landing strip. Sugar Loaf is adjacent to golf courses, townhomes and residences that make up the community.

Liko Smith plans to transform the resort into a 560-acre Snowboarder's Mecca titled The RoK at Sugar Loaf. Smith has partnered with internationally experienced snow resort operators interested in long term development projects in the United States. The partners plan to open the resort by November 27, 2014.

"This is the single biggest challenge of my life, I'm fortunate I was able to find partners that not only understand the risks involved at Sugar Loaf but also the complexity of reopening a resort that has been shuttered for over 10 years," says Smith. "The key is getting down to bedrock on what's required and then taking massive action...I will not let this resort waste away on my watch," he says. "The residents and children in the region deserve a resort that will compete with others worldwide and The Rok is going to do just that."

Smith, who pled no contest regarding unpaid room taxes in the City Of South Lake Tahoe in 2009, promises that tax payments will never be an issue again. "I suffered very deeply and I truly learned from that mistake," he says.

Liko Smith, a star on THE BLOCK reality show, plans to create a new reality series beginning with an employee Boot Camp July of 2014. Interested snowboarders can apply at websites www.theworldsmostextremeceo.com or www.theRoKatsugarloaf.com

Smith, a noted speaker, outlines The RoK strategy in a speech title he had used during The Global Conference on Tourism in Palma Mallorga, Spain. "Brands Create Regional Tourism Opportunities." "Sugar Loaf has the assets of an amazing brand," says Smith. "It's time."

We will of course follow this developing and as-yet unconfirmed story on Leelanau.com. You can also check the links above and go social at the Friends of Sugar Loaf Group and also at the RoK at Sugar Loaf on Facebook.

January 2, 2013

Wondering on Waffle: How long will Sugar Loaf languish?

Filed under: backgrounds,Leelanau,michigan,news,photo,skiing,sugar loaf,winter — Andrew McFarlane @ 7:07 am

NW Cedar MI Leelanau Days Gone By Skiing at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort Will this Leelanau Mogul FUN return CPC Card 131007 Unsent

It's another year, and another winter that Sugar Loaf is no closer to re-opening.

Will this Leelanau icon ever return and offer scenes like this one from the 1970s on Waffle? Stay up-to-date at the Friends of Sugar Loaf group on Facebook.

Photo credit: NW Cedar MI Leelanau Days Gone By Skiing at Sugarloaf Mountain Resort... by UpNorth Memories - Donald (Don) Harrison

November 21, 2011

Hans "Peppi" Teichner and the Sugar Loaf Ski Club, 1950

Filed under: cedar,history,Leelanau,news,photo,skiing,sugar loaf,winter — Andrew McFarlane @ 11:04 am

Here's a great photo posted in the Friends of Sugar Loaf group by Scott Hedberg. Left to right they are Peppi Teichner, Jean Sweeny Raymond, Pixie Hoffman, Corky Beals, Bruff LaVan, Tom Kuhnan & Art "Major" Huey.

Peppi Teichner was a legendary figure in the the development of Michigan's ski industry. The Leelanau Conservancy's Teichner Preserve honors him and explains:

Hans “Peppi” Teichner is best known locally for having taught a region to ski – everyone from Helen Milliken to children with disabilities – and as one of the founders of Sugarloaf. But his history before coming to this country is equally as compelling. Peppi was a national ski champion from Germany – and a Jew –who was coaching the Spanish Olympic Team when Hitler rose to power.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out, he helped guide those who were fleeing Franco’s fascist regime over the mountains to France. A patrol spotted him, but he managed to out-ski his would-be captors. Still, his face ended up on wanted posters in the Pyranees Mountains, which forced him to seek haven in the U.S. When World War II broke out he helped train U.S. Army troops in the 10th Mountain Division.

Ultimately, after the war and stints teaching skiing in Sun Valley and Aspen, he settled in Leelanau. An army buddy had convinced him to come help plan a ski area that would one day become Sugar Loaf Mountain.

Teichner also was instrumental in developing Holiday Hills in Traverse City. I'm thinking that his army buddy was Stanley Ball. Anyone? See another photo of him right here, read a little more about the early days of skiing in Leelanau from the Enterprise,  and share and see photos of Sugar Loaf through the Sugar Loaf Mountain Club.

The Sugar Loaf Mountain Club is hard at work, getting the Loaf ready for skiing this winter - connect with them on Facebook!

October 24, 2011

Skiing at Sugar Loaf this winter?

Filed under: cedar,Leelanau,michigan,news,skiing,sugar loaf,winter — Andrew McFarlane @ 11:14 am

A new article on the Glen Arbor Sun asks Will Sugar Loaf offer cross-country skiing this winter? It begins:

A breath of fresh air may have descended on Sugar Loaf. Just weeks before snow is likely to fall on the downtrodden Leelanau County ski hill whose chairlifts have sat idle for nearly 12 years, a local resort owner is developing a plan that would open the mountain to cross-country skiing and ice climbing — perhaps this winter.

Erik Zehender, fourth generation co-owner of Fountain Point Resort in nearby Lake Leelanau, is negotiating with Sugar Loaf owner Kate Wickstrom to lease the mountain from her and create the Sugar Loaf Mountain Club, a nonprofit that would offer backcountry and groomed trails to members of the club who, in Zehender’s words, “participate in the costs of insurance, grooming, outhouses, warming huts, parking, plowing, safety programs and other operating expenses.”

Empire resident and Director of Sales and Marketing at DW North, Rick Desrochers, and Glen Arborite Eric Luthardt, a Product Line Manager at Flow Snowboarding, have assisted Zehender. According to Wickstrom, those two “believe in Sugar Loaf and have stood by me. I wouldn’t go forward without them.” Desrochers and Luthardt have worked with Wickstrom for over a year, and she says they bring ideas to resurrect the resort lodge and mountain...

Read on at the Glen Arbor Sun for more about plans for this winter and share your thoughts on our Sugar Loaf thread!

September 15, 2011

A new leaf at Sugar Loaf?

Filed under: development,government,Leelanau,michigan,news,skiing,sugar loaf — Andrew McFarlane @ 3:16 pm

Let me be the first to say "I doubt it," but in anticipation of a new burst of energy here, I'm rolling out a fresh post to replace the Turning the Page on Sugar Loaf post with its nearly 400 comments.

This week's Leelanau Enterprise reports that Sugar Loaf owner Kate Wickstrom met with Glen Dempsey, head of the Leelanau County Construction Authority. Dempsey intends to work with Wickstrom towards bringing the long-shuttered resort into compliance with county building codes.

Probably the highlight of the article - other than confirmation that Wickstrom now intends to sell the property - is Cleveland Township supervisor Rick Stein's statement to the township board that Sugar Loaf stands a "pretty good chance of being condemned if things don't happen there pretty quickly."

Thoughts? Comments? Post them below!

The photo is by Karl Kitchen and was posted to the Friends of Sugar Loaf Facebook group.

July 27, 2011

Positive Sign at Sugar Loaf

Filed under: cedar,development,government,Leelanau,michigan,news,sugar loaf — Andrew McFarlane @ 8:26 am

While I think the headline New Hope for Sugar Loaf? has been used two or twenty times before, this story from last week's Ticker has some positive news. They report:

The Leelanau County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority (LCBRA) recently made a small but meaningful move in the hiring of AKT Peerless. The Saginaw-based consulting firm’s mission: to market and make use of a $1 million dollar revolving loan fund granted to LCBRA by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Roughly 80 percent of the fund would be available to developers to help with up-front and long-term environmental clean-up costs in the county, a tantalizing incentive LCBRA hopes will make redeveloping the resort more attractive to potential developers.

But what exactly needs to be cleaned up? And how much will it cost?

Leelanau County Planning Director Trudy Galla tells The Ticker that the project wouldn’t be easy – or cheap: “The buildings are falling into disrepair … There are issues with mold, water intrusion and a bit of asbestos. There was also a septic backup in one of the buildings. It looks like the Tennis Barn will need to come down, and there are old underground storage tanks that need to be removed.”

Photo by Karl Kitchen from the Friends of Sugar Loaf group on Facebook - see more of the condition of the resort in his Sugar Loaf - April 2010 Album on Facebook!

January 28, 2011

(still) ((still)) waiting for sugar loaf

Filed under: Leelanau,michigan,news,photo,Real Estate,skiing,sugar loaf,winter — Andrew McFarlane @ 11:05 am

(still) waiting for sugar loaf

(still) waiting for sugar loaf, photo by farlane.

The lift line is looooooooong today...

I posted this photo in April of 2008 after Brad Lutz announced he was pulling out of a purchase agreement. While we're waiting, here's a new poll!

Are you still interested in the future of Sugar Loaf?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

Discuss at Turning the page on Sugar Loaf.

Next Page »

Powered by WordPress :: webdesign by Leelanau.com :: © 1996-2010 Manitou Publishing Co.