Vail development moves on despite Madoff ripple effect

When it comes to Colorado, the focus of Bernard Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi-scheme fallout has dealt mostly with Aspen’s Jewish community, which is reeling from the real estate ripple effects.

But one of the most high-profile – and at one point controversial – development projects that might be impacted by Madoff’s epic 20-year pattern of investment fraud is in Vail, where a massive $250 million development in the heart of the faux-Bavarian village is currently under construction.

Former New York City real-estate developer and fiber-optics financier Peter Knobel fought long and hard to get approvals for the project, which will include condos, shops, restaurants, movie theaters and an ice-skating rink. But The Denver Post has reported Knobel lost a substantial amount of money investing with Madoff.

Knobel declined to comment to the Post but has publicly said the project is fine, and construction has continued at a good clip (it’s slated to open next ski season).

In 2006, the project, known as Solaris, was the subject of special election forced by opponents who felt it was too big and didn’t conform to Vail’s alpine architecture. Two council members were voted out in the ensuing political wrangling, and one of them, current Mayor Dick Cleveland, admitted he misread public sentiment on the issue. Voters forgave him and brought him back a year later.

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