(Staff Reports): APPLE VALLEY – Perched high above Highway 18, the iconic Hilltop House has seen better days. Vacant for decades, what was once described as the crown jewel of Apple Valley, has become shadowed by blight.
On Wednesday, the Town closed escrow on the $310,000 purchase of the property with the assistance of a $160,000 grant awarded through the National Park Service through the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The Town Council allocated the remaining balance be paid out of the general fund.
Town Manager, Frank Robinson, explained that the use of these grant funds means the property will remain in the Town’s possession as park land in perpetuity.
“This acquisition is a victory to many community members, who have lobbied to reclaim the land and repurpose it as a multi-use nature trail.” This collective vision lead to the formation of the Apple Valley Legacy Trail Organization, a non-profit group organized by local architect Steve Richard, that carved out a wish list of uses for the property including nature trails, a 360-degree observation deck and more.
Mayor Barb Stanton commented, “we are so grateful for the groundwork that the Apple Valley Legacy Trail Organization, has put into listing the potential uses for this property.” She noted that the Town has also received input from the High Desert Community Foundation and the Apple Valley Unified School District. “Now we can begin evaluating the property to determine future plans.”
Built in the 1950s, the Hilltop House was used by Town founders Newton T. Bass and Bud Westland as an entertainment and marketing tool for their Apple Valley Ranchos Land Company. Its position on top of what is now called Bass Hill provided panoramic views of the desert landscape until the structure burned in 1967. It was rebuilt a year later and used as a conference center but has been vacant for several years. It was purchased in 2000 by the 360 Apple West, LLC and suffered another fire in 2009.
Robinson explained that the property will remain closed while the Town prepares it for public use and he added, “the Town looks forward to collaboration with the High Desert Community Foundation and the Apple Valley Unified School District and sharing ideas for the future use of the site”. The length of the closure will depend on how much work is needed to be done and how much funding is needed to finish the project, for which the Town will pursue grant opportunities and donations.
The addition of the Hilltop House adds an additional amenity to the Town’s list of a dozen parks. For more information on other park properties, call the Recreation Department at (760) 240-7880 or visit www.AVRecreation.org.
(source: Town of Apple Valley News Release)