Lauren Glendenning
lglendenning@cmnm.org

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December 7, 2012
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Knobel expands Vail retail empire

VAIL, Colorado - Solaris developer Peter Knobel is expanding his Vail retail empire to include six new retail spaces just a few steps away from his massive Solaris development that began opening piece by piece in the summer of 2010.

The redevelopment craze that happened in Vail in recent years has created a new town standard for luxury, and Knobel has been a major part of leading that charge (he also recently bought two commercial spaces in the Wall Street building). Solaris, which has a mix of high-end art galleries, clothing stores, entertainment and fine dining, is now extending across Meadow Drive into the One Willow Bridge Road building. The new retail spaces there will be called the Shops at Solaris Plaza.

The ground floor of that building had most recently been home to the Marketplace on Meadow Drive, a mish-mash of business concepts all cobbled together into an odd retail and restaurant layout. The business included a cafe, a gelato shop, a crepe cafe, a wine shop and a market that sold everything from deli meats to paper towels to milk and bread. The stores were all interconnected through a long, narrow hallway that meandered through each space.

After the Marketplace closed its doors, Knobel seized the opportunity to buy the space and convert it into more of what Solaris already offers: high end retail. Knobel said Meadow Drive has become the side of town where "everybody wants to be."

Knobel converted the Marketplace space into six separate commercial spaces. Sales, Marketing and Leasing Director Craig Cohn had tenants for all six space in about six weeks, he said.

The spaces range from a little more than 800 square feet to over 1,300 square feet. Cohn said there's a lot of larger and smaller spaces in town, but this range seems to have met the spatial needs of many business owners. Cohn is also proud to point out that no business in town moved an existing business to the new shops - every business is new to town, although some are owned by existing business owners.

There's a jewelry store called Lamina, which is already open and selling fossils, gold and precious stones. The first Oakley store in the region is set to open a couple of doors down. There will be a shoe store called Sols and a men's clothing store out of Aspen called Testosterone. The Gib Singleton Gallery, another gallery by Paul Zueger, who also owns Galerie Zuger and Masters Gallery, is also open and features bronze sculpture pieces. And the space on the end, where the old wine bar used to be, will be a leather goods store called Bogece. The shops that aren't yet open are expected to open before Christmas, Cohn said.

"With the bed base that's grown in Vail all being to the west of (Solaris), and the gondola being to our east, this foot traffic and bus traffic volume of high quality shoppers has increased significantly and that's, I think, what has a lot to do with why people want to be on this side of town," Cohn said.

With Vail in-town bus stops a few feet away from the front doors of the Shops at Solaris Plaza, Cohn and Knobel are hoping to catch a lot of that traffic that inevitably comes through the area because it's what separates the fine hotels from the mountain.

"You're getting people that are actually sleeping in Vail versus the transient person who can already buy whatever they want cause they're coming up from Denver into the parking structure and up to the mountain," Knobel said.

And while Cohn said there will always be a lot of foot traffic on Bridge Street, that traffic is primarily the day skier walking to the mountain from the parking garage. The dollars are spent from the destination guests, though, and those guests are coming from hotels like the Sonnenalp, the Sebastian and the Four Seasons, he said.

"With new upscale lodging, our retail needs to keep up with the quality of our residential options to really attract the people that want to stay at a Four Seasons, at a Sebastian," Cohn said. "So the two things do very much go hand-in-hand. I think now our retail is catching up with the quality of the new bed base that was created in the last couple of years."

Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or lglendenning@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Dec 7, 2012 11:20PM Published Dec 7, 2012 09:18PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.