A number of recent news stories have exposed the issue now facing many New Yorkers when making funeral arrangements – the lack of burial space! With such a built-up area around New York City, and with over 60, 000+ deaths a year, the allotted space in cemeteries is just running out. It’s turning out that a cemetery real estate plot can now work out just as desired-after, and just as expensive, as Manhattan real estate! According to the NY Times ‘City Cemeteries Face Gridlock’ article, a mausoleum space can cost as much as $3 million, with burial space in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx costing more than $1,000 per square foot!
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New Yorkers can still be interred in Brooklyn, Queens and Long Island, but burial space is so limited, that officials are predicting that cremation will become the preferred option for those who want a final resting place in the city. Most of the cemeteries in New York City are now focusing on how they can add above-ground mausoleums to offer extended space for burials and even increase the space for cremation niches.
Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn still has some space left, but it is expected this will run out within the next 10 years. Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn and Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx both report a similar problem, although they believe some creative utilization of space, may enable them to continue offering burial plots for at least another 20 years. Canarsie Cemetery now plans to build an extensive ‘city’ of mausoleums in an attempt to add 10,000 new burial spaces to the cemetery.
New York City cemeteries have had to become as inventive as possible in creating additional interment space, narrowing pathways and creating smaller family or joint plots. The Division of Cemeteries that governs cemeteries allows them to reclaim plots that have remained unused for 75 years if they have had no contact from the family who purchased the plot. Cemeteries can even buy back sold plots that families no longer want. Maybe not surprising then that the Division has been approached by families wanting to disinter their parents to sell the plots. When a plot at Woodlawn can be valued at anything between $6,995 and $1.6 million, this is becoming the lucrative real estate of the 21st century for many cash-poor New Yorkers.
When a cremation can be performed within New York City for as little $475, including the crematory fee, it simply makes cremation the most affordable option. For those New Yorkers that still want NYC to be their final resting place, then a small cremation niche may be a solution, or maybe an ash scattering. Those New Yorkers who absolutely want to be buried, may have to turn to the suburbs, upstate New York or even New Jersey, where more burial space is available and at an affordable cost.
As the little burial space there is continues to run out, the prices for cemetery plots in New York is likely to increase. If you are a New Yorker that holds an unused cemetery deed, this could turn out to have been a lucrative investment. However, if you want to be buried in your city, but do not yet own a gravesite, you may find your options limited.