Additional parking spaces are coming to the popular Abbot Kinney Boulevard shopping district in Venice, more than 20 years after they were first envisioned for the area.

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, city transportation and engineering officials and Venice community leaders broke ground Thursday, August 14th, on one of two proposed public parking lots for the Abbot Kinney Boulevard area, signaling the start of a project nearly two decades in the making.

The new lots — located along the 1300 block of Electric Avenue between California and Santa Clara Avenues, and along the 1600 block of Irving Tabor Court between Venice and Palms Boulevards — will provide a total of 115 new metered parking spaces.

Community members praised the increased parking spaces, as Abbot Kinney Boulevard, comprised of eclectic boutiques and restaurants, has become a thriving shopping district.

“This is a vibrant part of the Venice community,” said Rosendahl, adding that people come from around the world to shop along the boulevard named after Venice’s founder.

The councilman noted that the added parking spaces were first proposed back in 1987, when then-City Councilmember Pat Russell helped the city acquire four parcels in the Electric Avenue area to convert into needed public parking lots.

At that time, the parcel between Venice and Palms Boulevards was an “alley of infamy” and blight, but Russell envisioned a transformation for the district, Rosendahl said.

“What Pat saw was the future of Abbot Kinney,” Rosendahl said of the councilwoman’s plan.

The city has since developed two of the parcels — one along Electric between Palms and Milwood Avenue, and the other along Electric between Milwood and California Avenues — into parking lots, and now has plans to develop the two remaining parcels for parking areas.

Over the years, the two parcels have fallen into disrepair and have been used for storage. The lot between California and Santa Clara Avenues will provide 66 new metered spaces, while the lot on Irving Tabor Court will add 49 spaces, said John Fisher, city Department of Transportation assistant general manager.

Rosendahl said the meters will accept debit and credit cards as a form of payment.

Community leaders officially broke ground on the first phase of the project, which involves paving the alleyways and refurbishing the streets.

The second phase is currently in design and will include construction of the two parking lots. Pedestrian pathways and lighting will be installed for safety, and landscaping will also be added.

Construction will be performed by Department of General Services crews, while the Bureau of Engineering will provide construction management.

“This is truly a city project,” city engineer Gary Lee Moore said at the groundbreaking.

Venice residents said they were pleased to learn that the formerly blighted area will be converted into needed lots, helping address the community’s parking problems.

“Venice has significant parking challenges and this represents a concrete step forward in helping to solve those challenges,” said Venice Neighborhood Council president Mike Newhouse.

The Neighborhood Council has formed a new Parking Committee to make recommendations for short-, mid- and long-term parking solutions, such as parking garages, he said.

In a letter to Rosendahl, resident Mark Ryavec said he supports the paving of the parcel between Palms and Venice Boule- vards to provide parking for Abbot Kinney’s many visitors.

“Any and all additional parking is desperately needed to accommodate all these users, who have become more numerous with the increasing success of Abbot Kinney as a destination shopping district,” Ryavec wrote.

Former Venice Chamber of Commerce president Robert Feist, owner of Ravenswork Studio, added, “This project is taking an area that’s known for its blight [Ö] and transforming it into an asset that will serve the community for decades.”