Alpine Village shopkeepers get confirmation: they’re being evicted

Alpine Village, a community jewel near Torrance known for its iconic German-themed restaurants and shops, has one month left before shuttering for good.

The Alpine Market closed this week. The popular swap meet and a cafe closed last week. And now, the dozen remaining merchants in brick-and-mortar shops — all that’s left of the once-thriving Bavarian-themed retail center — have received an eviction notice.

The merchants received the letter on Wednesday, March 1, the day after they got word the Alpine Village had been sold. The letter, which the Southern California News Group obtained, says the shopkeepers have 30 days to vacate the premises.

The new owner is listed only as 833 Torrance Boulevard LLC – Alpine Village’s address.

“All Tenant responsibilities under the Lease remain in effect and unchanged through 3/31/2023,” the Wednesday letter, written by CBRE Property Management on behalf of the new owner, said. “Please note that under California law, your month-to-month tenancy can be terminated on 30 days’ notice.”

CBRE did not return requests for comment.

But several tenants told SCNG that the CBRE representative that gave the the eviction notice also said Alpine Village will be converted to a truck yard to store cargo containers and vehicles for the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

How that will happen is unclear, since the village’s buildings have historic status, though that designation is only for the exteriors.

The spokespeople for both the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports said they didn’t know about the sale or the new owner.  Matt Schrap, a representative with the Harbor Trucking Association, also said he wasn’t familiar with plans for the Alpine Village.

And the office of county Supervisor Holly Mitchell, who represents the area, did not return requests for comment.

But Elke Schulz, owner of Alpine Toys, said the decision makes sense because of the village’s proximity to the harbor.

The ports faced a storage issue during a cargo surge that began in the second half of 2020 and lasted more than 18 months That surge, which has since abated, led to lingering cargo at the ports, ships lining the coastline down to Orange County and overflowing warehouses, all of which underscored the need for more places to store cargo.

“Over the years, we have heard many times they want to put container storage for the harbor,” Schulz said, “because it’s so close to the freeway. It’s easy for them to go to the harbor and fill them up.”

The Alpine Village, a chalet-style shopping court near the 110 Freeway, opened in 1968 and for decades was a hub of German American activity. It boasted a soccer field, a German market, bakery and even a petting zoo where small animals roamed.

But in recent years, the Alpine Village has slowly deteriorated, with regulars and tenants pointing fingers at poor management, as well as changing demographics and aging clientele.

Its restaurant and bar, home to one of the South Bay’s most popular Oktoberfests, shut down in 2020 because of financial hardship. The swap meet the Alpine Market both shuttered late last month, despite protests from vendors and shopkeepers.

“It was just not making any money for them anymore,” Schulz said, “because you have nothing going on, so how could you be making much money/”

Schulz runs the toy shop with her Mom, Marlene Schulz. Their business has been in operation since 1974. Like many others, the village has a special spot in her heart.

“This was like my neighborhood growing up,” the younger Schulz said. “I played with all the other kids around here. Some kids play on their street at home. This was my street.”

Schulz said she will sell her products online while trying to find another brick-and-mortar location.

“I am not mad that they are selling,” she said. “I just didn’t like how they handled it.”

Nephy Nunez, who has owned a sign printing shop at Alpine Village for 13 years, said the previous owner did not disclose that the property was being sold until Tuesday.

The initial letter informing merchants of the sale cited a non-disclosure agreement during negotiations as the reason for not letting them know sooner.

Still, Nunez said, the decision will negatively impact all of the stores at the complex.

“First of all, we will not have any new customers coming in,” he said. “Second, who is going to incur all the expenses of us moving out? And third, the loss of business. So it will affect us. We are a small business in the City of Torrance in Los Angeles County. This is completely shocking to us.”

Related links

Alpine Village, for decades a German American hub, faces unknown future
Swap meet at historic Alpine Village, near Torrance, says goodbye
Swap meet at historic Alpine Village, near Torrance, appears headed for closure
Alpine Village near Torrance is now officially a historic landmark
Alpine Village to close money-losing restaurant and bar in April

Mike Mueller, owner of Salamander Shoes, acknowledged that the new owner offered to help extend their stay if tenants needed more time to move stuff out. But the merchants are not allowed to make any sales beyond the 30-day period, he said.

“I just think what they did to us after being here for that many years was very unfair, very inhumane,” Mueller said. “I mean, you couldn’t just have a simple conversation with all the store owners, it’s only 10 or 11 people, and say, ‘This is what’s happening and you guys should make your own arrangements and plans.’

“It’s a shame. This place has been here for a long time. A lot of people have memories here,” he added, “and it’s finally over.”

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