Woodlawn hopes to open new funeral home by summer

Manager says home will accommodate up to 200 funerals per year

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By SETH STERN

A plan first devised over a decade ago to add a funeral home to the Woodlawn Cemetery near the intersection of Desplaines Avenue and Cermak Road just across the street from North Riverside may soon become a reality.

According to John Isaacson, who manages both Woodlawn and the Mount Auburn Cemetery in Stickney, the new home will be able to accommodate from 100 to 200 funerals during its first year.

The funeral home will have two chapels, one of which will seat 220 and the other about 75, he said. He said that though a groundbreaking date has not yet been set, construction will persist throughout the winter and he hopes to have the home open by late spring or early summer of 2006.

"It's going to be a convenience for families having everything in one location?"it will allow us to be a bigger presence in the community and just give more options to people when they need our type of service," Isaacson said.

According to the site plan which was approved by Forest Park's village council back in March, the funeral home will have two floors, the first floor measuring 11,872 square feet and the top measuring 3,721 square feet.

Isaacson said the home will have over 120 parking spaces, most of which will be placed parallel to Desplaines and Cermak.

Though Isaacson said that plans to add a funeral home have been in discussion for several years, the plot of land that will be used for the building has been considered in the past for other purposes, including residential development.

In 1997, representatives from the Loewen Group, which owned Woodlawn at the time, went before Forest Park's zoning board with plans to build 181 two-bedroom and three-bedroom townhomes on over 10 acres of land at Cermak and Desplaines.

The request was unanimously rejected by that village's Zoning Board of Appeals, with board members stating that the zoning change necessary for the project would not benefit the surrounding area.

Woodlawn Cemetery has been in Forest Park since 1912, and is currently owned by the Alderwoods Group, the second largest operator of funeral homes and cemeteries in North America.

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