First built by Thomas Lovett, the Hill Top House Hotel has graced the scenic promontory overlooking the Potomac River valley and "The Gap" at the tri-state boundary since 1889. (At left: Lovett stands in front of the original structure, 1892.) Mr Lovett and his wife, Lavinia, previously operated an inn at the Brackett House, also in Harpers Ferry (intersection of Fillmore and Columbia Streets, currently used as National Park Service offices). After burning down and being rebuilt twice, in 1912 and 1919, the Lovett family finally sold the hotel property to Fred McGee in 1926.
(At right: Postcard image of the second Hill Top House Hotel structure, 1912.)
From its earliest days, the hotel's prominent location and gorgeous views attracted many notable guests, including several U.S. Presidents (most recently Bill Clinton, in 1998), members of Congress, other high-ranking government officials and foreign dignitaries, Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain, and W.E.B. DuBois, just to name a few. The property was purchased lastly by SWaN Investors of Leesburg, Virginia in 2007, after which the hotel was closed due to poor structural integrity. Upon closing, SWaN announced its intention to rebuild and reopen the business as an upper-echelon hotel property, beginning many years of discussion between the owner, the Town government, and local residents and business owners on a future vision for the hotel and its place in the surrounding community.
(Shown here is the existing third Hill Top House Hotel structure. Photo taken around the time of the hotel's closure in 2008.)
The first major breakthrough from these discussions, public hearings, and open forums came in 2012. After much long, hard work, Professional Planner David Beniamino and the Town Council-appointed Visioning Steering Committee prepared a series of four important documents pertaining to the Harpers Ferry Vision. This set of materials was subsequently formally adopted by the Town Council. These four documents are as follows:
Based on these four documents, further input from the community, and the initial plan presented by SWaN Investors, discussions turned to zoning changes for the area surrounding the hotel and associated properties. In 2017, after much debate and years of work by the Planning Commission and its subcommittees, a new zoning overlay district was created by ordinance, called the Promontory Overlay District Ordinance (Article 1313 of the Codified Ordinances of Harpers Ferry). This ordinance defines the parameters within which the hotel property may be developed. Upon its enactment, the ordinance met with the approval of SWaN Investors, the Town government, and the vast majority of local residents and business owners, marking another historic event for Harpers Ferry and greater Jefferson County. As a result, SWaN Investors revised its plans for the future Hill Top House Hotel and debuted a new presentation to the community in April 2018, followed by the beginning of the process for final approval of the hotel complex by the governing and deliberative bodies of the Corporation of Harpers Ferry. (Proposed design of future Hill Top House Hotel shown at right. This design is loosely based on the 1912 structure.)
A communication protocol was established between the Corporation of Harpers Ferry and SWaN Investors: the RFI ("Request for Information") process. All RFIs are public information and published for review online. Click here to access and review a collection of all RFI documents to date.
SWaN presents TIF proposal to help Harpers Ferry Water Works improvement project – August 2019
On Wednesday, 21 August 2019, SWaN Investors presented documents to the Water Commission and Town Council describing a proposal to wrap the Water Sytem Improvement Project into the Hill Top’s Tax Increment Financing (TIF), which can only be used for public infrastructure. Three documents were presented:
Click on the links above to review these documents. Hard copies are also available at Harpers Ferry Town Hall.
SWaN submits economic study documents to Town Council – updated June 2019
SWaN Investors submitted several requested economic and fiscal impact documents to the Town Council as part of the negotiations between the two parties on use of public streets and rights-of-way. The following documents have been posted here for public review:
On 7 June 2019, the firm TischlerBise released a "Review of Hill Top House Hotel, Fiscal Impact and Valuation Assessment Data" (click on the link to access). This document, commissioned by Town Council, reviews the estimated fiscal impact study referenced above.
Hard copies of all these documents may be reviewed at Harpers Ferry Town Hall upon request. Additionally, a professional appraisal report is available for review at Town Hall.
Planning Commission releases Statement of Conformity – October 2018
The Planning Commission met weekly, from 15 May through 2 October 2018 to review and discuss SWaN's formal Concept Plan for the Hill Top Hotel reconstruction project and SWaN's subsequently-submitted Landscape Enhancement Plan. As required by Codified Ordinance 1313.04(b), the Planning Commission drafted and delivered to SWaN, copying the governing bodies of Harpers Ferry, the following:
Click on the links above to review these documents.
SWaN Legend's Hill Top Hotel Concept Plan submission – updated August 2018
During the Planning Commission's special meeting that was called on 15 May 2018, SWaN Legend's project and design team presented the formal Concept Plan for the Hill Top Hotel reconstruction project. This submission included three key components:
Additionally, SWaN Legend's project and design team presented a Ground Level Landscape Enhancement Plan in August, which included the following documents:
The individual submission items may be accessed by clicking the links above. They are also available for review at Town Hall in hard copy. Contact staff at 304-535-2206 for more information on reviewing these items at Town Hall.
1000 Washington St
PO Box 217
Harpers Ferry WV 25425
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Hill Top Hotel RFIs (Requests for Information)
An RFI process has been implemented for more efficient communication between the Corporation of Harpers Ferry and the developer of the Hill Top House Hotel. To access and review the RFIs, click here or on the folder icon below.