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Green-Wood Cemetery to Convert Offices Into New Burial Crypts

By Leslie Albrecht | December 3, 2014 7:25am
 Historic Green-Wood Cemetery plans to build new crypts and niches, according to court documents.
Green-Wood Cemetery Getting New Graves
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GREENWOOD HEIGHTS — Brooklyn's hot housing market is about to get some new inventory — for the deceased.

Green-Wood Cemetery is planning to build new burial crypts and sell them to the public, according to documents filed recently in Kings County Supreme Court.

The cemetery recently bought property across the street from the historic graveyard and plans to build new offices there. Green-Wood would then convert its existing offices into graves for new customers, according to a petition filed with the court Nov. 20. (A judge must approve cemetery land purchases under state law.)

That means there will be rare new openings at Green-Wood Cemetery, which was founded in 1838 and is the final resting place for New York luminaries including the corrupt 19th-century politician William "Boss" Tweed, composer Leonard Bernstein and artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Space is tight at the 478-acre cemetery at Fifth Avenue and 25th Street, and it will run out of room for new burials in about five years, officials told Bloomberg News recently. The cost of plots rivals real estate prices for the living: a 756-square-foot mausoleum site costs $320,000, according to the cemetery's website.

The cemetery is a National Historic Landmark, but it was recently removed from the list of sites the city is considering for local landmark status.

The new crypts, along with aboveground "niches" for cremated remains, "will be sold to the public and will generate significant additional revenues for the cemetery," according to the court filing.

The court documents don't specify a timeline for when the new burial spaces will be ready.

Green-Wood is moving its offices to land it recently purchased for $1.5 million at 242 25th St., which is now occupied by the headstone maker Century Memorials. The cemetery plans to develop part of the property for new offices and already sold a portion of it to nearby Aladdin Bakers.

The cemetery's newly acquired property is next door to the landmarked McGovern-Weir florist building, a Victorian-era greenhouse that Green-Wood bought in 2012. The cemetery plans to convert the building into a visitors center.

Cemetery officials declined to comment through a spokeswoman.