In 1974, Richard Nixon resigned the presidency, Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth's home run record, and RBF Consulting, a civil engineering and land-planning firm in Irvine, Calif., started working on a site plan for a 1,000-acre parcel known as the Reeves Ranch in San Clemente, Calif.

The inland portion of the parcel, near a freeway interchange, was quickly developed, primarily with residential units. But the coastal section, consisting of about 250 acres, was problematic. There were environmental issues to address and the city's strict architectural guidelines to satisfy. More than 20 land plan studies were submitted—and rejected—over the years.

Nothing passed muster until this spring, when the final development permits were issued by the California Coastal Commission. Marblehead Coastal will include 313 luxury homes and 650,000 square feet of commercial development, including restaurants, shops, and a convention center—as well as 120 acres of open space, including parks and trails.

Says Michael C. McGovern, project manager for Irvine-based developer SunCal Co., which purchased the site in June 2005: “I will remember this date like I remember my wedding anniversary.”

Learn more about markets featured in this article: Los Angeles, CA.