Will Sugar Loaf's neglect end up making sale possible?

sugar-loaf-wall-most-difficultIn Offers to buy ‘Loaf’ revealed, Eric Carlson of the Leelanau Enterprise brings us up to date on the state of Sugar Loaf in a well-researched article. He says that numerous offers to buy Sugar Loaf Resort from the “unnamed guarantors” of the mortgage have been made … and rejected.

Real estate agent Allen Reed is quoted as saying that Kate Wickstrom appears to be out of the picture and also that the buildings are now viewed as more of a liability than an asset. Real estate agent and County Commissioner David “Chauncey” Shiflett of Leland agrees with Reed’s assessment.  Shiflett helped establish the county’s new Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and new Land Bank Fast Track Authority.

Clearly a “blighted or obsolete” property, Sugar Loaf Resort may present an opportunity for a developer interested in benefiting from special tax incentives as well as government loans and grants available for cleanup and redevelopment through the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority.

In addition, the county’s newly-formed Land Bank Fast Track Authority has the legal ability to “quiet title” on certain properties where ownership is contested, unclear or potentially subject to forfeiture due to unpaid property taxes – circumstances which might describe Sugar LoafResort. Action by the two county authorities could attract a private developer willing to take on project to redevelop Sugar Loaf Resort.

“I have no idea whether the newly seated Leelanau County Board of Commissioners will support the idea of doing something to improve the situation there,” Shiflett said. “But I know that trying to do so is something that I will be focusing on. I know that many of our constituents support the idea of the county taking some action to help revive Sugar Loaf.”

Chauncey is quoted at the end of the article saying that:

“In some economies, it might not make sense for a county government to get too deeply involved in something like this, but we’re not in a normal economy right now – and now may be the right time for the county to help spearhead an effort to revive Sugar Loaf.”

Over the holidays, I looked around at the downtowns, and while I saw some activity, to me it looked like every winter weekend back in the day when Sugar Loaf was a going concern. I’m wondering what you think about whether or not the county government should get involved.



10 replies
  1. Timothy J. Creagan
    Timothy J. Creagan says:

    Growing up in Leelanau in the summer as well as winter afforded me the opportunity to grow up with Sugar Loaf. I have many fond memories of way back when Sugar Loaf in the summer had lift rides for families to visit the top of the Loaf. I remember the winters sking with numerious kids from all over the country that would visit the area during the Christmas holiday break. Both my children learned to ski at Sugar Loaf from the time they were 3 years old. I remember the great winters snowmobiling to Sugarfoots and spending evenings at Top of the Loaf with many friends. Just several weeks back I visited Sugar Loaf on my way to Crystal Mountain and thought of what a shame it is to see Sugar Loaf in such a shambles and the ill-effect it has had on businesses like SugarFoots. In the 70’s and 80’s you could visit Sugarfoots winter or summer and have a 15 min wait to be seated. I am very interested in the revitalization of SugarLoaf to bring business back to the county in the winter time and afford the next generation the opportunities I had as a child enjoying the beautiful winter wonderland I so remember!

    Tim Creagan

  2. lex
    lex says:

    Yes, I think the county should get involved. It has already to a point, there have been possible buyers and the county has done whatever to help, yet the seller…we all know who it is, is not making effort to sell the resort…or pay taxes(I’m not positive about that last part). Local govt. has run ski areas in the past & still do, however the Loaf is so messed up that it would cost a bundle just to tear down everything. I think the county should write up a business plan for doing so; 1) just to see the real risk/benefit 2) to put pressure on the “un-named seller”. I think any phased reopening of the Loaf would be a helpful not only to the area business/locals but the county to get it to a point where it could sell it if needed.

  3. Hillary Urban
    Hillary Urban says:

    Sugar Loaf can bring life back to Leelanau County during the winter months. So far this year, I have been to Crystal, The Homestead, and Caberfaa Peaks and none of these resorts can hold a candle up to Sugar Loaf. Sugar Loaf offers to much to Leelanau County and our businesses that it is about time the local government and/or state government gets involved.

    As I sit at my desk at work and stare at a promo photo of my father, Dan Urban and Mike Yawning advertising for this great resort in the early 90s when Sugar Loaf was hitting a high note between skiers, golfers, racers, and family vacations, it is sad to see it in the state it currently resides in. I feel more deeply connected to this place than most people. I will always be on board to make Sugar Loaf into the ski and/or golf resort it should be.

  4. Hillary Urban
    Hillary Urban says:

    Yes things are going well for me since the big job change. I teach 4-h at the homestead which is just not the same as teaching it at Sugar Loaf. Keep me posted as to any Loaf news. Take Care

  5. Pttie McGovern
    Pttie McGovern says:

    I would love to see Sugarloaf up and running in any form, even if to start it just has a small day lodge. If the community is supportive, the resort could again grow to its full potential. My husband and I are in the market for a vacation property and my heart is in Leelanau but we need a substantial ski resort close by. Right now we are looking into Schuss Mt. but I would rather be in Leelanau. I’m sure that we are not the only family who feels this way.

  6. Jack Shoaf
    Jack Shoaf says:

    The restoration of Sugar Loaf as a viable and sustainable economic entity in Leelanau county is critical to preserving the quality of life we enjoy in this unique setting. By providing local employment for year round residents, and drawing revenue from outside the county, Sugar Loaf stands as the single best economic development opportunity in the county. Restoring the resort at whatever level of service would leverage the required investment to the greatest degree in terms of employment without the usual accompanying degradation of the environment.
    Levying increased property taxes on full and part time residents in order to maintain the level of county services we have come to appreciate is not sustainable, particularly given the softening of the real estate market. County involvement in restoring Sugar Loaf is an appropriate and effective role for our elected officials to embrace. Given the recent propensity of the federal government to bail out firms and stimulate the economy, Sugar Loaf would appear to qualify as a “shovel ready” project for just such purposes as job creation and income preservation.

  7. Kate Wickstrom
    Kate Wickstrom says:

    It has become obvious that the Leelanau Enterprise is not interested in printing my statements regarding any and all matters concerning the sale of the resort. Recently, when I offered comment to Eric Carlson, I was told by Amy ??? that he was not available and that they only had one question. When asked if that was all, I was told by Amy, yes, now you can not say you have not been heard in the paper and was hung up on. My side of this will come out one way or the other – the truth will be told and Leelanau County will know the whole story.

  8. Dan Wilcox
    Dan Wilcox says:

    Jack Shoaf said “Levying increased property taxes on full and part time residents in order to maintain the level of county services we have come to appreciate is not sustainable, particularly given the softening of the real estate market.”

    Jack, maybe it would be sustainable if residents actually paid their taxes. http://www.leelanau.cc/downloads/dams_1.pdf

    Maybe the lelanau.com blog should maintain a separate discussion board for the oh-so-informed opinions of the delinquents.


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