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Specter of demolition spurs landmarking effort of kitschy Alpine Village

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It’s the home of SoCal’s most well-known Oktoberfest

A photo of a German-style building with lights on the roofline that look like icicles.
One of the Alpine Village’s typical structures.
Via Los Angeles County Historical Landmarks and Records Commission

The future of the Alpine Village—famous for its Bavarian-style buildings and annual Oktoberfest celebration—is unclear as the 14-acre site near Torrance is on the verge of being sold.

But, because of the involvement of Los Angeles County, it seems like the charming German village-style buildings will at least be spared.

The historical landmarks and records commission voted Friday to nominate the Alpine Village, located in unincorporated West Carson, for consideration as a county landmark.

Doing so essentially protects the historic structures from demolition” and any “inappropriate alterations” until the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors takes a final vote, says planning staffer Dean Edwards.

The Alpine Village was built in 1968 and has served since then as a shopping and cultural center.

A county report says that Alpine Village’s importance to the German-American community and other European-Americans in the area is grounds to landmark it. The Village’s architecture—“a post-World War II example of a shopping destination situated to attract travelers on the adjacent freeway” with its unique architecture and large neon sign—is also worthy of landmarking, the report says. It’s also the home of the oldest Oktoberfest celebration in LA, hosting the event since 1968 (though it’s downsized in recent years).

“Alpine Village has been a fixture of German cultural heritage in Los Angeles County for more than 50 years and is a unique place people care a lot about,” Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, said in a statement.

The move to landmark the site came at the behest of the county.

According to a report prepared by the county’s regional planning department, Pacific Industrial indicated to the department that it was in escrow on the Alpine Village property and intended to raze the site and build a warehouse on it.

The company’s co-founder Neil Mishurda told the Daily Breeze that the company is not and has never been in escrow on the site. In a letter to the commission, Walburgia Vilenica, co-owner and president of Alpine Village, also confirmed that the owners were not in escrow but did confirm they were actively looking to sell the property.

In a letter to the commission, Vilenica indicates that the Alpine Village’s best days are behind it.

Vilenica painted a picture of a shopping center with only a trickle of foot traffic, businesses that are likely to close soon, and accumulating maintenance costs. “Alpine Village is no longer self-sustaining financially,” Vilenica writes.

An attorney representing Alpine Village’s owners told the commission they were not opposed to the landmarking, but asked that the designation exclude the interiors of the Bavarian-style buildings and the large parking lot on the northern section of the property.

County planning staffers told the commission they would accommodate the request regarding the parking lot and would check with an architectural historian regarding the interiors of the buildings, Edwards says.

At its next meeting in January, the commission will determine whether the property meets all the landmark criteria. If it does, the commission will recommend that the County’s Board of Supervisors landmark the Alpine Village.