A new leaf at Sugar Loaf?

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.

27 replies
  1. al thomas
    al thomas says:

    Come on, you good folks up there are holding out for a Santa Claus coming with reindeers on your roof. I re-took up skiing after my kids graduated from the Leelanau School several years ago and I want it to happen just so I can visit back to that beautiful part of Michigan. But god,
    give me a break, this is a dead issue and go on with your lives, there is better things to do like going to Arts and watching some of those good teachers over there throw down some shots and beer, especially Joe and Hood and that english teacher who is a good guy in a round house with beer cans for bushes, opps………….whiskey bottles.
    Eat those great burgers that my whole family miss, who cares about about looking like Michelle Obama, those are great people at the school, and that Karner is great and I forgot about him

  2. lex
    lex says:

    Actually, you’re the first to respond, so take some of your own advice. Can I call u liko?

    For the rest of us, who care, so what would that mean if it gets condemned? Knock down some buildings, clean up some soil? Just wish the current owners gave a darn.

  3. KarlK
    KarlK says:

    It’s fun to watch folks react like this whole situation is absolutely and completely consuming our daily lives. It’s even more fun when they go to all the trouble to come to boards like this to tell us all that we’re wasting our time. Me, I say let ’em vent…heaven forbid that reality should interfere with an entertaining rant.

    The reality is that redeveloping Sugar Loaf into something viable will undoubtedly require a level of investment that the current economic climate simply will not support. That doesn’t mean that folks can’t look out the corner of their eye at the idle property and entertain notions about what can be done with the place. Sure, it’s a mess now, but the place still has potential to be great under the right conditions. If folks want to entertain the notions and throw around ideas, why not? Last I checked, this is still a free country.

  4. KarlK
    KarlK says:

    BTW, “al”, that was not meant as a slight against you. There were some folks on the previous incarnations of this discussion who were downright vicious toward virtually anyone who had the nerve to say anything that even sounded hopeful or positive in reference to the Loaf. As for me, I’m not holding my breath, but the place still has potential.

  5. Morgan
    Morgan says:

    This is frustrating to say the least. Obviously, there are likely other issues preventing the re-opening. However, if a single person was able to somehow come up with financing for 5.7M (which by the way, I am still trying to figure that one out) for the the place then get on the ball and get going. I really don’t see any reason this place COULD NOT be successful. I just see lack of motivation.

  6. lex
    lex says:

    Part of the reason our economy is in a mess, is banks giving out loans that people had no chance to pay back if anything at all changed or went wrong. As I recall as soon as the property changed hands then lawsuits came out, people started getting dirty cause they don’t want it to open & investors walked away. As a community, we haven’t helped, local government is now helping but it took too long. Actually not sure about Dempsey/Kline, are they helping or hurting, or just doing their jobs(or maybe job security). It’s a comedy of errors from every side.

  7. Loafy
    Loafy says:

    Nothing to worry about now with banks giving out loans because they won’t anymore, period. I have tried to re-fi twice now (and have the financial resources to do so) but have been denied twice because my house is on the real estate market and their ‘rules’ state they can’t re-fi a house on the market. NEWS FLASH- the house has been on the market for 2 1/2 years and no one is interested in purchasing. I am listed at $60K less than I have in the place and can’t even get any lookers. That’s what a defunct ski hill within a stones throw is doing for me. Once I am off the market for 6 months, they will consider a re-fi. Ridiculous………..

  8. Loafy
    Loafy says:

    I thought so Steve. What I really had was my house listed as ‘PENDING’ for 9 months in the MLS which is realtor speak for ‘Do Not Show’. I lost the whole Summer selling season on a speculator. Now anyone looking will see the house as on the market for a gazillion+ days on the market which is poison to them.

  9. Ned
    Ned says:

    Maybe Mario Batelli will get someone to buy The Loaf and revamp it into a culinary institute/ski hill. They could put a nice 4 star restaurant right at the top. Hey- why not? Any better ideas?

  10. KarlK
    KarlK says:

    Cool idea, Ned, but not as a “mountaintop” restaurant…a logistical nightmare and a dead idea once the novelty wears off. I say replace the lodge building and make such a restaurant part of that lodge.

  11. Loafy
    Loafy says:

    While any progress is good progress, this seems a little more than half-baked. I can CC Ski almost anywhere in Leelanau County without dropping a dime. Best of luck with this anyway. Maybe snow tubing like Timberlee could gain a little traction? Ice skating? Snow cones?

  12. lex
    lex says:

    actually it’s about downhill skiing/boarding but using skins, snowshoes or hiking up with some marked trails & some snow work.

  13. Andrew McFarlane
    Andrew McFarlane says:

    Rick Desrochers of the Sugarloaf Mountain Club posted this about Saturday’s work bee at Sugar Loaf:

    I just want to start out again by saying a big “Thank You” to all the volunteers that are helping the Sugarloaf Mountain Club. We are making progress every week and the volunteers coming out are rising more and more. 1st week 2 people came out to volunteer, 2nd week 11 came out to volunteer and third week 22 people came out to volunteer. This week we are having another “Work Bee” It will be on Saturday 11/19/11 from 10 -1 and 1 – 4.. This is about the community and doing what is right for the whole area. So come out and support something GREAT!

    This week we will be working on. We will have a sign up and waiver to sign at the Bell Tower where we will also meet..Go over a couple safety rules and we will head out from their.

    1. Finishing up the tube run(Need Weed Eaters)
    2.Nastar working at the top (Weed Eater, Nipers and bushhog)
    3. Bottom of Awful Awful, Walful and the Wall (Weed eater and bushhogs)
    4. Laying out the Cross country trail (Chainsaws)

    Again a big Thanks to all the Volunteers and Kate Wickstrom and Wally Fryer

  14. Bill Endres
    Bill Endres says:

    Andy, With the recent activity of people putting in work for improvements and the signs of the positive attitudes and foreward momentum I think that we must realize in a new light that reviving Sugarloaf has become very much Mission Critical and very much Possible while we have this window of opportunity open to us.

    If only the good people of Leelanau County and other Northern Counties could just get themselves organized and get together to help others and themselves in this one cause that is a huge opportunity for the whole area.

    The people of this area, Northern Michigan are survivors in the worst of times. They have the skills and abilities, they have the guts,and they have the motivation to work hard for the things they want. Winter recreation in Northern Michigan is vitally important to them both in their personal lives and in business. They have the ability to make something great something that was once great to be great again.

    With an owner like Kate Wickstrom, if only the good people would bond together and to help her get the place back in shape and operating again, I’m sure that she would return the favors by helping them in return.

    Through a lot of care and concern and a hell of a lot of just plain hard work and sweat equity from the community as a whole, a group of us were able to get Mt. Holiday back up and running again.

    I don’t know all of the details, but it looks like one fantastic opportunity here to do something great like getting Sugar Loaf reopened before the good times return, the property sold to a developer who trashes it and the opportunity vanishes forever.

    Take it from someone who’s been through it. It requires a lot of time, patience and hard work. In the end, when you have a chance to see all of the positive things that come out of it you’ll know that it’s worth it.

  15. Andrew McFarlane
    Andrew McFarlane says:

    If Kate would like to share her thoughts with the community about her plans and the help she’s looking for I would love to share them here. I think that it would be pretty important for folks to know what the long-term vision is, how it gets paid for and other details.

    It’s been a long and dark period and I don’t think there’s a whole lot of trust in the community right now, so a clear vision of the road forward would be really important. Something like Mad River Glen would be interesting to consider.

  16. Nate
    Nate says:

    Is sugarloaf open to hiking and backcountry this winter? Are volunteers stuIll working on improvements? I terested in helping.

  17. ex-skier
    ex-skier says:

    You do know that PRNewswire is just a for-profit marketing entity? You or I or anyone else can write anything we want, pay them and have ‘press release’.

    I hope I’m wrong in thinking that this is destined to be another sad chapter in the saga.

    There would appear to be a lot of inherent irony with anyone who has actually accumulated enough money to bring the place back to life and that same person thinking it would be an intelligent use of said money. Unless one planned to cook meth in the Sugar Barn, it’s pretty much impossible to imagine recouping such an investment – let alone making money – at Sugar Loaf.

    But if you just opened a couple lifts, bulldozed everything and built a small, quaint mom & pop chalet and served burgers – just brought skiing back and forgot about making it a ‘resort destination’, maybe it could have a chance? Why can’t anybody just crawl before they run?

  18. Mark
    Mark says:

    If I had gone as long as Sugarloaf owners (?) not paying my property taxes, the county would own my house by now. Why do millionaires always get a break? Take the darn place Leelanau County!!!!

  19. Steve Combs
    Steve Combs says:

    Man,I don’t know,I know it’s still tough times,(I lost my home to foreclosure in 2011)but I’m certainly not a millionaire investor. While I can understand that there is a lot of infrastructure costing considerable money, and maybe this owner is content just to own all of the mess there, it’s extremely disappointing to see absolutely no positive action since I was last here (Sept.2006).I think its obvious that Sugarloaf is iconic to Leelanau, and perhaps there are many(like me)who miss the resort and remember it as a boon to our community.

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