Sugar Loaf Owner Says It Could Be Years Until Shuttered Resort Opens Again

Longtime Leelanau County resident Dianna Reynolds loves her quiet Cleveland Township home. Her house sits tucked between the trees with panoramic views to rolling hills and often spots deer out her window.

What she doesn’t love is her next door neighbor: the empty Sugar Loaf Resort.

The once gleaming ski hill has been closed for the past 20 years and has fallen into disrepair. Its doors are no longer on the building, many windows have been busted, and vandals have tagged and marked it throughout

“I’m concerned. It’s inviting vagrants,” Reynolds said. “It doesn’t say much for our neighborhood. I tend to look the other way so I don’t have to look at it.”

For decades, neighbors and county leaders have been asking what would be done with the blighted property.

An out-of-state developer bought the shuttered resort four years ago. At the time, California lawyer and property owner Jeff Katofsky also acquired two properties downstate, including the St. Clair Inn. He has been working on developing those projects ahead of work on Sugar Loaf.

He says his original plan was to salvage the resort building, but years of vandalism have damaged it beyond repair.

Last year, the county believed he’d have the place up and running by 2021. But that may not be the case anymore.

“A lot of people were hoping he move quicker. We all were. But it is private property, the taxes are paid on it,” said County Administrator Chet Janik.

Katofsky says he’s applying for Brownfield grants to start demolition work, which may cost up to $3 million.

“We’re ready to go so as soon as we get the bureaucracy out of the way we can start taking it down,” said Katofsky during a phone call. “Just because you don’t see people up there with machines doesn’t mean we’re not working on it.”

He’s not disclosing his plans for the property yet, but says he may relocate the main building.

Reynolds hopes whatever the plan is, it happens fast.

“Who wants to live next to it not knowing what might happen, and how long it’s going to go on? Because it’s gone on for a long time,” Reynolds said.

Katofsky says it may be years still before the resort is back open.

“We understand it’s been 20 years, and we understand you’d like to see it done now, and we’re doing the best we can,” Katofsky said.

His business partner will be in town early next month to meet with county officials about their plan.