A series of special reports on Long Beach and the Queen Mary.

This series is funded by support from The Fund for Investigative Journalism and readers like you.

By Kelly Puente and Jeffrey L. Rabin
Edited by Joel Sappell
From left, Queen Mary Honorary Commodore Everett Hoard, former District 2 Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Urban Commons Principals Taylor Woods and Howard Wu celebrate on the Queen Mary in 2016. Photo by Asia Morris.

‘A betrayal you can’t even put into words’

A little-known real estate investment firm had big plans for the Queen Mary, but now they owe hundreds of millions to an array of creditors—and the fate of the city’s most famous asset is more uncertain than ever.

August 8, 2021

Mary and Mike Dannelley took a fast liking to Taylor Woods when he joined their tight-knit cycling group for daily rides through the coastal hills of Orange County. Athletic and engaging, with a big smile and confident air, he seemed like a man on the move in ways beyond his bike.

The Dannelleys became so close to Woods over a handful of years that they were willing to entrust their future to him. When he offered them a high-return opportunity to invest in his expanding hotel empire—which included the multimillion-dollar operating rights to the Queen Mary—they handed him their $2.8 million nest egg.

Today, the Corona del Mar couple is in a very long line of investors, creditors, government agencies and ex-employees who claim they were cheated and are trying to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars from the wreckage of Woods’ once high-flying real estate company, Urban Commons.

Prior reporting on the Queen Mary

By Kelly Puente