Knobel takes turn in the backhoe |

Knobel takes turn in the backhoe

Preston Utley/Vail DailyDevolper Peter Knobel says he stops by the Crossroads demolition site about once a day to check on its progress.

VAIL ” The demolition of Crossroads has been a family affair for Peter Knobel. His daughter started it. Then his son got in the backhoe.

“Thea Knobel took the first chunk, and, 10 minutes later, Simon Knobel went to work,” he said.

And Knobel, the developer, couldn’t let the opportunity pass himself by.

“I took down the movie theater,” he said. “It was fun.”

The tear-down of the Crossroads building started May 8, and now about two-thirds of the Crossroads building are demolished.

The backhoes are sorting the remains of the building into piles of steel, concrete and wood, which will be recycled. Workers are taking 35 truckloads of debris off the site every day.

Crossroads, built in the late ’60s, will be replaced by Knobel’s Solaris project, which will include a three-screen movie theater, a 10-lane bowling alley, a public plaza that will be an ice rink in the winter, 75 condos, stores and restaurants.

Although much of the building is demolished, workers are still extracting the basements from the building. On Wednesday, a big backhoe was picking away at walls and a staircase below what was once Art’s Bar.

Knobel, a Vail resident, intently watched as the backhoe smacked at the stairwell. He said he visits the construction site every day.

“I love walking the project,” he said, recalling his days as a developer of high-rises in Manhattan. “To see mistakes and fix them before they go too far.”

The western wing of the building, with exposed walls covered in graffiti such as “R.I.P. Crossroads,” will be torn down starting Monday, Knobel said. Before the demolition started, workers went through the building and removed light fixtures and refrigeration equipment. The movie-theater seats stayed.

Demolition is supposed to last until mid-July.

The 99.9-foot-tall Solaris was controversial when it was proposed, with vocal opponents saying it was too big and tall for Vail. But it was approved by voters last June.

“The community is overwhelmingly happy that this project is proceeding,” Knobel said.

About two-thirds of the condos have been sold. The building is supposed to be completed in late 2009.

Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or

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