A Hit for the Village People

Residents of Vail will be able to voice their opinions officially on the controversial Crossroads redevelopment, because the proposal is going to a public vote on July 11. For the past year, the legendary ski town has been divided over developer Peter Knobel's vision for the $250 million Solaris project, a 600,000-square-foot, multi-use condo complex in Vail Village that would include a bowling alley, an arcade, restaurants, retail space and a 30,000-square-foot public plaza ("Vail at the Crossroads," May 4).

The power struggle between Vail's older founders and the town's younger newcomers became especially heated last November, when two town-council members who opposed the project were voted out of their seats and replaced by pro-Solaris candidates. On March 21, the new council narrowly approved Knobel's proposal, but in April, opponents of the project collected enough signatures to put the issue up for a public referendum. The date of the vote was set during a June 6 meeting, after the town council chose not to overturn its earlier approval.

It wasn't long before the rival campaigns started butting heads. In a small town like Vail, political battles are invariably personal battles as well. The mud really flew late last year, when people started talking about Knobel's past connection with the adult-entertainment business. Knobel, a New York-born multi-millionaire who moved to Vail with his family five years ago, vehemently denies any overt business dealings with the porn world, aside from a 1997 FTC settlement ("Peter Knobel, Phone Home," May 4). But Westword found a 1997 lawsuit filed in Florida District Court that named Peter Knobel as a registered officer of WKP Inc., a company that specialized in the billing and telecommunications portions of the phone-sex industry. In April, Knobel told Westword he had no relationship with WKP, said he didn't know the corporation's infamous heads, Seth Warshavsky and Ruth Parasol -- dubbed the "prince of porn" and the "princess of porn," respectively -- and dismissed Westword's inquiries as "fishing for bullshit."


Peter Knobel

Troll long enough, though, and you might hook something.

Westword recently obtained the certificate of incorporation for WKP Inc., filed in 1995 with the Delaware secretary of state. Listed alongside Warshavsky and Parasol is Peter Knobel, the company's vice president, and the address listed is that of Knobel's former townhouse in Central Park West in New York City. According to the Delaware Division of Corporations, WKP was formed in 1994 and de-listed in 1997. Evidently, bullshit runs deep in these waters.

Meanwhile, the fight in Vail continues to heat up. Knobel's lawyers recently sent a cease-and-desist letter to Friends of Vail Village, accusing the anti-Solaris group of committing copyright infringement by using a rendering of the proposed building on its website, www.stopoverdevelopment.net, and in an ad published in the June 7 issue of the Vail Daily.

Friends of Vail Village, however, argue that the drawing was already in the public domain, since Knobel's group had submitted it as part of its proposal.

And the vote is still four weeks away.


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