2017-10-19 / Front Page

Coming up: Loaf meeting

Big crowd expected
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff

A standing-room-only crowd of excited Sugar Loafers crammed into the Sugarfoot Saloon in April 2005 to hear the new owner of the resort, Kate Wickstrom, announce that she expected to put ski runs back in operation for the 2006-2007 ski season.

A crowd of people — perhaps less excited — is expected to show up Friday at 11 a.m. in the lower level Community Meeting Room of the Leelanau County Government Center to meet the newest owner of Sugar Loaf Resort, Jeff Katofsky.

By all accounts, Katofsky has the wherewithal and the will to make something good happen at Sugar Loaf Resort, although exactly what that might be and when it might happen is not yet entirely clear — perhaps even to Katofsky.

A California real estate attorney and investor, Katofsky owns a minor league baseball team in Utah and at least three Michigan properties that he acquired through a legal settlement with a man named Remo Polselli.

Polselli has been flamed for the closing of Sugar Loaf. In fact, Polselli apparently still controls a mortgage Katofsky has on the resort.

Katofsky is expected to provide a more detailed account of his relationship to Polselli on Friday morning.

A group of investors headed by Polselli acquired the resort in 1997 after a bank foreclosed on a mortgage held by another group of investors. Twice convicted of felony tax evasion relating to some of his other properties, Polselli served time in a federal penitentiary, but has maintained control of a mortgage on Sugar Loaf Resort through his financial troubles.

When Katofsky closed on a deal to acquire Sugar Loaf in 2015, he said he would first turn his attention to restoring two downstate properties he acquired from Polselli – a hotel near Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, and the historic St. Clair Inn in St. Clair County.

During a recent business trip downstate, Leelanau County Administrator Chet Janik confirmed that Katofsky’s hotel in Romulus has been thoroughly rehabilitated and is doing a brisk business. Janik also drove to St. Clair County and found that work is indeed underway to restore the St. Clair Inn.

District No. 5 County Commissioner Patricia Soutas-Little has been playing a key role in reaching out to Katofsky and hooking him up with state and local officials eager to facilitate his efforts to redevelop Sugar Loaf Resort.

Katofsky visited Leelanau County and his own property for only the second time at Soutas-Little’s request in August. That’s when he agreed to host a series of meetings this month with locals about his plans for Sugar Loaf.

Before he shows up for the big face-to-face meeting Friday morning in the Government Center, Katofsky plans visit the studios of WTCM-580 AM Radio in downtown Traverse City. He is expected to chat on the air with radio talk show host Ron Jolly at around 7:10 a.m.

Other members of the local news media have been invited to conduct private interviews with Katofsky. In addition, he is expected to confer with local government officials about his plans for Sugar Loaf and will likely spend time with officials of the Leelanau County Brownfield Redevelopment Authority and the county’s Construction Code Authority.

In recent weeks, people have been purchasing seats from an old chairlift that is being dismantled by a contractor hired by Katofsky. The seats have been going for about $300 each.

Dozens of people who frequent a “Friends of Sugar Loaf” page on Facebook have vowed to show up at the Friday morning event wearing “I’m a Sugar Loafer” tee-shirts and hoodies that have been marketed online in recent years.

A golf pro at Sugar Loaf – The Old Course, literally within a stone’s throw of Sugar Loaf Resort — is Rich Dubs. He’s not too excited about Katofsky announcing plans for the resort – yet.

“We should all just see what Mr. Katofsky has to say about his latest project before we get too excited,” Dubs said.

A co-manager of the Sugar Loaf Townhouse Owners Association, Tony Mattar, said he and members of his association board expect to show up at Katofsky’s big meeting Friday morning as well.

“It’s just a coincidence that we planned to have our board meeting this Friday afternoon,” Mattar said. “After hearing from Mr. Katofsky on Friday morning, we’ll probably have plenty to talk about.”

The townhouse owners share a water and sewer system with the resort and have been maintaining paved parking lots and other common areas with the resort for many years now — with no support from the resort’s owners.

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