BELLAIRE — Mount Mancelona’s future relies on donors’ pocketbooks as the defunct ski hill nears the end of a 10-month foreclosure.
Samuel and Abigail Porter aim to quickly raise $40,000 — money the couple claim they need to retain ownership. Mount Mancelona entered foreclosure in December 2017 and the property went to auction in April, leaving the Porters six months to come up with at least $360,000.
That deadline comes Saturday.
The Porters closed on Mount Mancelona — a 74-acre swath, including a ski hill and 12-acre historic farm — on Sept. 29, 2017 for $450,000. Delaware-based Antler Bar Real Estate financed the purchase and the Porters mortgaged $375,000.
The property went into foreclosure just three months later.
Antler Bar Real Estate representatives cast a $360,000 bid for the property during an Antrim County Sheriff’s Department auction on April 13th after deputies left several foreclosure notices for the Porters.
Sheriff Dan Bean said his deputies did not have any scheduled foreclosure actions this week, nor any in the future he could think of. Such actions typically take place on Fridays, he said.
A crowd-funding campaign to capture that money numbered $1,740 by Friday afternoon. The Porters also reached out to would-be donors on social media.
“We just want to save the mountain,” Samuel Porter wrote in a Facebook thread.
Other Facebook commenters questioned the campaign. Some asked why the Porters waited until now — several months after the mortgage went into default — to start fundraising. Others asked about the “shred equity” offered to donors, including VIP experiences, skiing and event access.
The Porters are known well in northern Michigan as the founders of events like Paella in the Park and the Traverse City Microbrew & Music Festival.
Their ideas, however, have a history of funding issues.
The couple owns several LLCs used for business dealings. Many are named in lawsuits through the past several years.
The Porters settled two suits between their Tent Venue LLC and Porterhouse Presents LLC and the City of Traverse City last year over $2,384 in unpaid fees from the microbrew festival, including licensing to serve alcohol.
An 86th District Court judge awarded another vendor, True North Environmental, $4,102 in a fall 2017 suit after Porter’s check bounced for Tent Venue’s rental of portable restrooms for an event.
The Porters — and Tent Venue, Porterhouse Presents and the couple’s Spectacular Structures LLC — landed in court again in November 2017 when Hilltop Properties, then-landlord of Tent Venue’s offices, sued to evict the business for nonpayment.
The Porters were ordered to pay nearly $10,000 to Hilltop and vacate the property.
A former partner sued the couple and Tent Venue in 2015 for $2,000 in unpaid sales commissions from a past project.
American Express National is suing the Porters for an unpaid $4,663.54 in credit card debt. The parties appear in court next in December.
The Porters’ funds and balances held by their LLCs were garnished in several of the cases.
Antler Bar Real Estate sued the Porters last summer for $8,862.66 remaining on the mortgage after Mount Mancelona’s foreclosure sale.
For now, the property hosts concerts, private gatherings and other events.
Mancelona Township Supervisor Chuck Johnson and his wife volunteered at Mount Mancelona last year for a concert where Billy Strings — a progressive bluegrass musician — drew a sold-out crowd of several thousand people.
The potential Porter and his wife could revitalize the property and continue bringing large crowds to the Mancelona Township venue excited Johnson. It’s apparent that many in the community feel the same based on the number who volunteer to run events and clean up around the property, he said.
“I think it would be a huge impact if it does come about with Sam and what he’s proposing,” Johnson said. “It would be great for the whole community.”
The Porters say they took up the Mount Mancelona project in hopes of turning their “Mountain of Dreams” — a plan to renew the site and make a community structure — to reality.
Early plans included cabins, yurts, an educational farm and a bee sanctuary.
“Our dedication is for the community and many to experience this beautiful place,” Sam Porter wrote in a Facebook thread.
The community hopes to see it happen.
Johnson would like to see the mountain once again become a hub for locals.
“It’s kind of his dream,” he said.
Samuel Porter did not immediately return calls requesting comment.