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New parking spaces coming under Southeast Expressway

State transportation officials announced plans Tuesday to open 235 parking spaces under the elevated portion of the Southeast Expressway between the South End and South Boston, signaling a major facelift for a vacant strip formerly used as storage space.

The Transportation Department said Tuesday that it has reached a five-year agreement with Boston-based GTI Properties to operate the spaces.

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Michael Verseckes, a Transportation Department spokesman, said the parking is slated to begin in late spring or early summer.

“This public-private partnership represents a huge win on so many levels,” said Richard A. Davey, the state’s transportation secretary, in a statement. “We have converted a former storage area into a space that will be useful, attractive, and serve the public and important neighborhood institutions while advancing the goal of promoting healthy transportation options.”

The spaces will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week, and about 60 of them will be set aside for the Pine Street Inn, a nearby homeless shelter on Harrison Avenue in the South End, according to the Transportation Department.

It was not clear on Tuesday if any of the spots would be free to users, or how much paid parking would cost.

Barbara Trevisan, a Pine Street spokeswoman, welcomed the news in a statement.

“Pine Street Inn is very grateful to DOT and GTI and pleased that its employees will share in this new parking lot with access to a safe, secure place to park, close to its main location in the South End,” she said.

Another 15 spaces will be set aside for the Zipcar vehicle sharing service, and the facility will also include up to a dozen spaces for electric vehicle parking, as well as bike cages for up to 23 bicycles, the Transportation Department said.

Lisa Feldman, general manager for Zipcar Boston, hailed the news.

“The addition of 15 Zipcars to the new location beneath the . . . Expressway will bring more convenience to our strong membership base within Boston’s South End, South Boston and Chinatown,” Feldman said in a statement.

Overnight parking will be available for South End, South Boston, and Chinatown residents who have a valid residential parking sticker.

The department added that the spaces will be “used by employees, residents and customers of the businesses in the adjacent neighborhoods along with the SoWa Sunday market and other events and festivals, in addition to the spaces set aside for the Pine Street Inn and Zipcar.”

GTI will pay the state $2 million over the life of the agreement, Verseckes said, and he added that GTI will not have to share any of the parking revenue generated by the facility with the state. The company will be responsible for management and security.

The department said that a second round of development, which includes about 200 additional parking spaces in the area, is scheduled for “substantial completion” in December.

“When both phases of the project are completed, the parking facility will cover approximately eight acres of property bound by Albany Street and Frontage Road and adjacent to the South End neighborhood of Boston to the West, the Fort Point Channel and South Boston to the East,” the statement said.

Verseckes said the state has not yet selected an operator for the second part of the plan.

John J. Kiger, director of commercial leasing at GTI, spoke highly of the project.

“Putting the vacant land under the highway to good use has been a ‘someday’ wish for the neighborhoods that surround it,” Kiger said.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com.
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