A vacant 94-acre Rancho Palos Verdes tract where dozens of homes could have risen will instead accommodate an organic farm, golf course and outdoor dining and reception area.
Developer Jim York - who headed a real estate investment group that bought and sold the land that became Terranea Resort - hopes to start work within a month on what he's calling Catalina View Estates.
The Planning Commission approved the hillside project Jan. 8 on a 3-2 vote, four years after York was first denied the necessary permits for the project on what's known locally as the Point View tract. No one has appealed that decision.
"After four years we're glad to have this behind us and we can start holding events," York said. "Compared to getting Terranea planned and built, this was easy."
Construction will include an "earth-tone" half-mile-long road into the property, a 100-foot-long and 12-foot-high sound wall enclosing the "event garden" to shield nearby homes from the noise, a 2.5-acre golf course and 250-square-foot greenhouse.
York also won approval for 25.5 acres of agricultural land, although he said he doesn't expect to plant quite that much land.
"I'm basically doing organic farming," he said. "I'm doing avocados, citrus, olives, vegetables and then finally we'll plant a vineyard."
"I want to have fun with this property," he added. "I enjoy growing things. It will be my retirement gift to myself.
Catalina View Wines, as York is calling his modest vineyard, will use cloned vines from the Santa Rita Hills appellation between Lompoc and Buellton on the Central Coast - best known for its Pinot Noir grapes that create big, sweet cola-like wines.
Because of long-standing concerns in the area over the stability of the land - part of the access road will cross an ancient landslide complex - York is restricted to using drip irrigation on the agriculture. Artificial turf will cover the nine-hole, two-green golf course.
It was the golf course that enabled the rest of the project to move forward on land zoned residential, York said.
By building the course, which is allowed in that zoning, York is permitted ancillary structures like the event facility.
York held a dozen private events on the property last year, receiving noise and other complaints from some neighbors.
"It's been a learning experience," York said.
The Planning Commission imposed 94 different conditions for operation of Catalina View, including stringent noise restrictions.
York is allowed 30 events a year. People can make reservations - call 310-544-6177 - for events scheduled after Aug. 15 when work on the access road and sound wall is complete.
York has hired prominent Torrance chef Michael Shafer to cater events, including those York held last year.
"It's phenomenal," Shafer said of the property. "You have a 360-degree view of beauty, it's really that simple. On one side you view the complete coastline and on the other side there's rolling hills, forest and nature."
York originally bought the land with partners in 1994, intending to develop almost 100 homes on the site. In 2009, he bought out his partners.