"It's still in play," he said. "We think this will be resolved by the fall, and then we can get going."

Selich first suggested creating a pocket park in the space in 2012, and the property owner agreed to donate the land to the city. The owner died in December, however, which caused delays in the property transfer while estate details were resolved.

Plans for the 1,300-square-foot plot of land at 3140 East Coast Highway include terraced, drought-tolerant landscaping, an irrigation system, low block retaining walls, concrete seating and walkway, and up-lights for the existing adjacent Hobie wall mural. The cost would be $90,000.

When the park is complete, it will include a bronze plaque to honor the owner, Myrtle Cox.

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El Cholo to watch parking lot

An El Cholo will be opening this fall in the former Landmark Steakhouse space — but the restaurant has already claimed ownership of its parking lot off Orchid Avenue, adding chains to prevent people from using the spots.

"We're going to be doing lunch," said Carlo Divita, chief financial officer for the El Cholo restaurant chain. "We need to make sure customers have a place to park."

El Cholo, which will open at 3520 East Coast Highway, is paying $4,000 to $5,000 per month for about 29 spaces, including a parking lot, as well as five adjacent parallel parking spaces. On Monday, workers were adding permanent chains that cordon off the area.

Ritz Cleaners owner Arman Karakesis said a Realtor visited him about a month ago and warned that the spaces were going to be reserved.

"It shouldn't affect us that much," he said. "But now we'll have to put up signs on our building saying, 'Half hour parking.' We'll see what happens."

Divita said many of the spaces were used by residents or employees of nearby businesses, not necessarily customers of local shops and restaurants.

El Cholo wanted to implement parking restrictions now so residents could become accustomed to the change, and so construction equipment could be parked there, he said.

Construction won't begin for weeks, he said, and the restaurant is working on its city permits.

In the past, Landmark's owners had informal agreements to let businesses use the spaces during the daytime because the restaurant opened only at night.

"They didn't bother securing it because they didn't need it," Divita said. "We are not going to be a nightclub. For us to be successful we have to do lunch."

City code requires specific numbers of parking spaces be available: 30 for lunch and 45 for dinner, he said. When the restaurant opens, an attendant likely will monitor the spaces.

"I know parking is tough there," he said.

Construction on the restaurant space will include some structural improvements, as well as removal of the black awnings in front and the addition of a retractable awning.

Disabled access will be added to the front of the restaurant, instead of from the side, and landscaping and planters will be upgraded. The restaurant recently removed dead or dying palm trees from the front of the restaurant.

Landmark closed in April.

Corona del Mar Today appears Sunday in the Daily Pilot. Read daily updates at coronadelmartoday.com.