“Liko is like someone who’s dating a girl, but thinks and says he’s engaged to her because he doesn’t want anyone else to go after her. He sees the potential in Sugar Loaf. Half the battle is wanting it. The other half is having the money.” — Remo Polselli
By Jacob Wheeler
In a rare and extensive interview with the Glen Arbor Sun today, Remo Polselli admitted that he is the owner of Sugar Loaf resort, through his share in Rock Investment Advisors, LLC. Polselli did not specify the extent of his ownership, or who else is involved in the corporation, but added that Liko Smith has no — nor has had any — part of Rock Investments.
Glen Arbor realtor John Peppler confirmed that he has been representing Rock Investment Advisors and Polselli. Peppler currently lists the long-shuttered ski resort at $8.72 million. Peppler represented the owners during this Wednesday’s inspection of Sugar Loaf, which was conducted by Leelanau County code inspector Steve Haugen.
Peppler said that the inspection revealed cosmetic damage, and speculated that much of the lodge’s interior will need to be redone, but said that Haugen found the building to be stable. Despite rumors to the contrary, the inspection found no sewage leaks and no evidence of rodents. Peppler said that Haugen didn’t find even a single tablespoon of mouse feces.
Haugen will release the inspection report sometime this month. The first recipient will probably be former Sugar Loaf owner Kate Wickstrom, whose name is still listed on the ownership deed. Wickstrom transferred the deed to Polselli last March, in hopes of washing her hands clean of the resort, but Polselli never registered the deed with Leelanau County.
Polselli confirmed the transaction and told the Sun that he expects to officially register the deed within 30 days, in conjunction with Florida-based TransCapital Bank’s payment of taxes due on the property. Wickstrom hasn’t paid taxes in many years. TransCapital and Remo’s wife Hanna Karcho Polselli (who co-signed on the loan with Wickstrom) have several times paid taxes at the 11th hour to avoid Leelanau County forfeiting the property.
Polselli and Peppler both confirmed that two groups are currently vying to purchase Sugar Loaf. Peppler said that Polselli must file the ownership deed before an eventual sale could transpire. The identities of those suitors is unknown, but Polselli speculated that they would probably take a more conventional, conservative approach to Sugar Loaf. That is, they wouldn’t try to create a West Coast-style, extreme snowboard resort, the likes of which were floated by Liko Smith. Polselli said that the listing price isn’t stopping those suitors, they’re simply trying to come up with the money.
Smith is not among the two suitors currently making a serious bid for Sugar Loaf. He likely never came close to acquiring the resort from Rock Investment Advisors. Polselli confirmed that he met several times with Liko Smith in California and offered him advice about possible business transactions but wouldn’t call him “a friend” and says he never backed him financially. Polselli speculated that Smith used his name, and that of British-born billionaire Oscar Peters, as possible financiers for the sake of building up credibility.
“Liko has great ambitions, great ideas, but he hasn’t gotten LV Air off the ground, and he doesn’t have the funds to purchase Sugar Loaf,” said Polselli. “The best analogy I can think of is that he’s like someone who’s dating a girl, but thinks and says he’s engaged to her because he doesn’t want anyone else to go after her. He sees the potential in Sugar Loaf. Half the battle is wanting it. The other half is having the money.”
Polselli also implied that Liko Smith chose the name “The RoK at Sugar Loaf” for his would-be “extreme snowboard resort” because it was a play on “Rock Investment Advisors, LLC” the resort’s current owner, and it might help Smith when he submitted an offer to Rock Investment Advisors.
Asked why John Peppler’s asking price skyrocketed this past fall from the $5 million range to its current asking price of $8.72 million, Polselli said that the economy and local real estate market had picked up and that the resort’s roughly 500 acres had been grossly undervalued.
Polselli and Peppler both expressed trust in each other, and both expressed optimism that Sugar Loaf may sell within a matter of weeks. The two have never met, but lately they have spoken on the phone on a near daily basis.
Polselli said he hasn’t set foot in Leelanau County in years, but occasionally follows the news on Sugar Loaf by visiting the 1,700-person-strong Friends of Sugar Loaf Facebook page. Polselli suggested that, if a sale doesn’t happen soon, perhaps those users should pool their money together and make a bid for Sugar Loaf.