Sugar Loaf, MI May Have New Life

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skn120100LaS-Sugar Loaf, MI Skier

Traverse City, MI, Dec. 4, 2000--Financially troubled Sugar Loaf Resort, situated in the Leelanau peninsula northwest of Traverse City, may have new owners. After closing early last winter and filing for bankruptcy, an unsuccessful auction seemed to assure that Sugar Loaf would not be open for this season.

However, on Nov. 16, Doug Nanney, of Capac, MI, announced that he and his partners agreed to buy the resort for $8.5 million from the Pacific XIX Investment group. If the deal goes through, the ski area could be open by Christmas under the new name of Cedar Ridge Resort Inn and Conference Center.

The resort sits on 470 acres and includes a 500-foot vertical ski hill, a 150-room lodge, 12 meeting rooms, and indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Nanney has indicated that the new Cedar Ridge will not be a "traditional" ski resort. The resort will not allow smoking, drinking, or loud music. The target audience will include church groups, religious youth groups, and other family-oriented organizations.

Several things make this proposed deal interesting. Nanney is a sign-maker by trade and admittedly has no experience in running a ski resort. This summer he was instrumental in acquiring a 369-room, 16-story downtown hotel in Flint, MI, which was then turned over to the Institute in Basic Life Principles, a private, non-profit group that specializes in a wide range of Bible-based programs.

Although Nanney has been involved with the Institute since 1984, the head of the Institute, Bill Gothard, says the Sugar Loaf deal does not involve the organization. The Flint hotel was also owned by Pacific XIX before its sale.

Meanwhile, a local group in Traverse City, which had been studying the possibility of turning Sugar Loaf into a non-profit community resource, ceased its efforts.