Washington shopping center magnate Theodore N. Lerner yesterday handed over a check for $21 million to two former partners for their share of the Tysons II property, paving the way for its development as a massive office, hotel and retail complex.

The transfer of money -- in the office of a Fairfax County court clerk -- ended a long-running, high stakes drama over who would develop the coveted 117-acre wooded tract across Va. Rte. 123 from Tysons Corner Mall, which Lerner developed with his now-estranged partners, Homer Gudelsky and Max Ammerman.

The Tysons II property, with its $28 million price tag, is considered one of Washington's most valuable pieces of undeveloped land, surrounded by several major highways, hotels, and numerous shops.

Lerner, who has developed malls at White Flint, Landover and elsewhere, plans to develop Tysons II in partnership with Homart Development Co., a subsidiary of Sears, Roebuck and Co., during the next 10 years.

Lerner's lawyer, John T. Hazel, Jr., said: "It appears that it is not likely to be a major regional mall, but it is likely there will be some retail there." The two parties have been talking about plans that would include offices, hotels and some stores.

Hazel said the team also is working out a plan to resolve the transportation issues in the Tysons area, where traffic congestion is a severe problem.

Tysons II went before the Virginia courts three years ago when Lerner broke with his two partners about what to build on the land. Lerner wanted to build a second mall, while Gudelsky and Ammerman opposed anything that might compete with the original Tysons Corner shopping center.

Gudelsky and Ammerman, who with their families owned a three-quarters share in Tysons II, decided to sell their portions to Boston developer Mortimer B. Zuckerman. Lerner objected and offered to buy his partners out. At a tense courtroom auction in 1981, Lerner outbid Zuckerman by offering $35 million. He later refused to pay the money, saying he was concerned about unexpected demands by the Virginia Highway Department for costly road improvements, and the feud returned to the court.