The land along the rocky coast at Long Point, in Rancho Palos Verdes, owns a place on any shortlist of the most scenic locales in the South Bay/Harbor Area.

The developers of Marineland of the Pacific deemed it the perfect location for their new aquatic theme park, which opened on the site in August 1954.

Three decades later, the corporate owner of the park, Harcourt, Brace & Jovanovich, abruptly closed the seaside attraction on Feb. 12, 1987. HBJ announced three months later that it had sold the 102-acre Marineland property to Arizona developer James G. Monaghan for $24.5 million.

The sale marked the beginning of the lengthy trail leading to the creation of the Terranea resort.

Monaghan had no intention of reopening Marineland, though his initial plans for the property consisted of building a large resort hotel and conference center that possibly could incorporate some of Marineland’s existing facilities.

The main aquatic tanks were razed in February 1988, leaving just its motel and restaurant buildings, the Sky Tower and the Catalina Room. (The Catalina Room remained open as a site for weddings and social events until 2004, while the Sky Tower came down in 1995 for aviation safety reasons.)

Monaghan introduced several plans for the property over the next four years. Initially, he wanted to build an 18-hole golf course (using some city land as well), a 1,070-room luxury hotel, 200 free-standing casitas, several restaurants, various other recreational facilities and a 50,000-square foot conference center.

RPV officials balked at the plan, however — concerned about its density and environmental impacts.

After a couple of more years of bargaining, Monaghan came up with a scaled-down plan calling for a 450-room hotel,with 50 casitas and a nine-hole golf course. The RPV City Council approved the plan in July 1991.

Then Monaghan ran into financial difficulties, stalling the development. The recession in the early 1990s dried up his financing for the project.

In 1992, he defaulted on a $20 million loan, after the government’s Resolution Trust Corp. took control of the Louisiana savings-and-loan that became insolvent after lending him the money. His development firm, Rancho Palos Verdes Resorts, Inc., was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Monaghan tried to regroup and reorganize, but was unsuccessful. York Capital Group, owned by Rolling Hills Estates resident Jim York, purchased the Marineland property and an additional 315-acre site known as the Filiorum property at a government bankruptcy auction in October 1994 for $24.1 million.

York made his preliminary development plans public in July 1996, to generally positive reviews from RPV residents.

He wanted an 18-hole championship golf course on the ocean bluffs that would have holes on both sides of Palos Verdes Drive South; a 200-room, four-star resort hotel and conference center; an estimated 75 single-family homes, priced at around $1 million each; and 150 free-standing “villas,” which would run around $750,000.

More negotiations with the city followed, along with additional permutations and refinements of the plan. York brought in Lowe Enterprises, based in Brentwood, as the project’s developer in 1999.

Debate on environmental and other concerns continued for the next four years. Finally, the city approved the development in 2002, with the California Coastal Commission signing off in June 2003.

But it would be another four years until Terranea’s groundbreaking, at a ceremony on March 7, 2007. Construction began in earnest on the the 582-room resort (including casitas and villas), and its spa, conference center and nine-hole golf course later that year.

The plans called for all new buildings, and demolition of the remaining Marineland structures began in July 2008.

Finally, the meticulously landscaped, Mediterranean-style resort officially opened to the public on Friday, June 12, 2009.

In addition to its lodgings, additional amenities at its opening, according to Daily Breeze reporter Melissa Pamer, included: a nine-hole golf course and golf academy, more than 60,000 square feet of meeting space, including an 18,000-square-foot ballroom for weddings and receptions; an outdoor amphitheater; public trails and coastal access, with 13 acres of restored native habitat; four restaurants and eight bars, a 5,000-square-foot gym, and three swimming pools; a water slide; and an oceanfront spa with 24 treatment rooms.

In the decade since its opening, Terranea has become a fixture along the Palos Verdes Peninsula coastline, and an sizable contributor to RPV’s tax base.

The only luxury resort of its size in coastal Los Angeles, the resort celebrated its 10th anniversary with a series of commemorative events running from last year to June.

Sources: Daily Breeze files, Terranea’s website.

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