Sugar Loaf

Leelanau County's former Sugar Loaf ski lodge will be demolished to make room for the new Sugar Mountain resort. 

SUTTONS BAY — The new owners of the defunct Sugar Loaf Resort are asking Leelanau County for up to $6.5 million in reimbursement of demolition and other remediation costs for its Sugarloaf Mountain project.

An application submitted by Sweet Bread, LLC, the company developing a new resort at the site, has it opening in December 2024.

The first phase of the application was unanimously approved Tuesday by the Brownfield Redevelopment Authority, giving Sweet Bread the OK to move forward with a more detailed brownfield plan.

Trudy Galla, planning and community development director, said that plan and any financial incentives for the project will also need approval by the authority at a future date.

The $6.5 million amount is an estimate and the actual dollar amount won’t be determined until the brownfield plan is done, Galla said.

“There are lots of unknowns, but it’s a good first step and we’re cautiously optimistic,” said Chet Janik, Leelanau County administrator.

Activities eligible for reimbursement include demolition, asbestos removal and hauling away dirt, Galla said. Reimbursement, if approved, will be taken from the increase in taxes generated by the completed project.

“It’s contingent on the developer doing what they said they would do,” Galla said.

The taxable value of the 400-acre property is now $1.4 million. The estimated value after completion is $175 million, according to the application.

The project itself is estimated at $134 million, a cost that includes demolition of the main hotel and lodge structure.

A timeline submitted with the application has demolition beginning in June and a projected opening of the new resort in December 2024, though the timeline was likely created prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state shutdown, Janik said.

Sugar Loaf, located in Cleveland Township, opened in 1947 and was once the largest employer in Leelanau County. It has been closed since 2000.

Real estate developer Jeff Katofsky became the resort’s new owner in 2016. Rick Barreca is listed as construction manager on the application.

Katofsky in the past said he would being focusing on Sugar Loaf in late 2018, with the new resort potentially opening in 2021 or 2022.

The county did environmental assessments on the property in 2018 and 2019 paid for with an Environmental Protection Agency grant. The assessments found some asbestos in the main structure but no other red flags, Galla said.

Three underground fuel storage tanks were removed about a year ago and no contamination was found at those sites, she said.

“Right now we feel pretty confident with the result of what is there,” Galla said.

Preliminary plans for Sugar Mountain include a 250-room luxury hotel, separate residences and townhomes, a fitness center and spa, event space and restaurants, the application states.

The new resort would have swimming, hiking, tennis and downhill skiing and would include a youth sports facility.

Townhouses now at the site that were part of the original resort are not included in the property acquired by Katofsky.

A timeline submitted with the application has demolition taking place from June 1 until November and construction of the hotel beginning in March, 2022, with workforce housing and a gas station and store following in July and October.

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