Jacob 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.
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.
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
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!
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!
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.
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!
(still) waiting for sugar loaf, photo by farlane.
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!
Jeff Smith of Traverse Magazine asks Can Sugar Loaf Mountain Come Back? After presenting a really excellent history of the resort from its founding in 1964 and through its sad demise (we're almost at the 10 year anniversary of its closing), Smith takes a look at what's going on right now. Some highlights:
Rumors are circulating that some kind of Sugar Loaf deal is in the wind involving an investment group headed by David Skjaerlund, from Owosso. Skjaerlund spent the past several months getting options on several Sugar Loaf town houses and nearby properties, according to Tony Mattar, who co-manages the town house association.
(County Commissioner Dave "Chauncey" Shifflet) has worked with county planner Trudy Galla to establish a brownfield development authority in large part to address any contamination issues at Sugar Loaf—subsequent studies of the buildings and underground storage tanks have found very little contamination. He and Galla have also laid the groundwork for a tax increment finance zone that could help the developer pay for demolition and cleanup costs.
...Shifflet has been beating the drum for a business center there for years now—high tech info-based businesses that just need a fat data pipeline to do their work. “We have an aging population. We have to figure how to attract young working families that doesn’t revolve around recreation. We need employment opportunities, like intellectual arts, multimedia content creation, maybe a film production studio. People working day in and day out, not just on the weekends,” he says.
Click to read much more at MyNorth.com, and if you have comments, please post them to our Sugar Loaf blog!
Photo credit:Sugar Loaf Mountain from Ski Michigan (see a couple more photos right here and get more Michigan skiing info at skimichigan.com!)
On our Sugar Loaf blog, Lex suggested that it might be interesting to find out what folks are wanting to happen at Sugar Loaf.
If you have comments on the poll, post them below!