Apple Valley Council votes to demolish Hilltop House
The Apple Valley City Council voted unanimously to demolish the historic Hilltop House in preparation for the future construction of an observation deck.
Council made the decision on Tuesday to raze the dilapidated Bass Hill home along Highway 18 after hearing a presentation from staff and feedback from residents, who were mostly in favor of razing the decades-old structure .
City staff did not share a demolition timeline, but said the estimated price to raze the city-owned structure was $150,000 to $200,000 using reduction funds and block grants from community development allocated.
The Hilltop House was built in 1957 primarily by Newton T. Bass and also his business partner Bud Westlund, owners of the Apple Valley Ranchos Land Development Company and founders of the town.
Bass first used the house – situated on nearly 21 acres – to attract average and famous potential owners such as Bob Hope and Dean Martin.
Leveling the structure to “dirt level” would make the property “shovel ready” for a new project, staff said.
It would also allow the public to hike the trail to the top of the hill for “picturesque views” over the Victor Valley, staff said.
During this time, the city would apply for a grant to build the observation deck.
Other plans include a recreational space for the public, a graded hiking trail, an improved walkway, seating, educational kiosks and safety features.
The council could have chosen to delay the demolition until the final plans for the observation deck had been created. However, security and liability issues surrounding the structure fueled the board’s decision.
“It’s sad to see this happen, but keeping people safe is our number one priority,” said Councilor Curt Emick, who believes the house’s history will be preserved as elements of the current structure will be used. in future constructions.
City Manager Doug Robertson said many residents enjoy the view of the house from the surrounding neighborhoods.
He added that a future project would be designed to retain the building’s iconic silhouette, visible from miles away.
Almost every council member shared memories of Hilltop House, including Councilor Scott Nassiff, who visited the house “when it was still a house”.
Councilmen Larry Cusack and Nassif said they remember seeing the Hilltop burning when the town had fewer than 10,000 people.
“My dad helped reserve firefighters,” according to Cusack, who said his company, Apple Valley Communications, once maintained transmitters in the basement of Hilltop House. “There’s a lot of history there.”
After a fire nearly destroyed the house in 1967, the structure was rebuilt and was used primarily as office space.
The house has changed hands several times and has been used as an entertainment and conference center, hosting meetings, weddings, school functions, receptions and parties.
The fenced building has been frequently broken into, potentially exposing the city to liability.
Intruders and vandals stole recyclable materials from the structure, city officials said.
Part of the second floor has collapsed, the carport was nearly destroyed by another fire, and graffiti covers much of the building.
The city has spent tens of thousands of dollars securing the property more than once and reducing the graffiti and vandalism that has plagued the property.
Although the property is not open to the public, many residents use the steep driveway and hill for hiking.
After several fires, the house was finally abandoned. The municipality bought the house in 2016.
This story is developing and will be updated as more information becomes available.
Daily Press reporter Rene Ray De La Cruz can be reached at 760-951-6227 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DP_ReneDeLaCruz