Lakewood cemetery planning mausoleum expansion

Southwest’s historic Lakewood Cemetery has proposed a $28 million mausoleum addition to increase its capacity and lifespan as an active site.

“Our existing building is nearing capacity and there’s very little left to offer people in that building,” said Ron Gjerde, president of the Lakewood Cemetery Association, a nonprofit organization that oversees the site. “The importance of being able to build another new building is that it does an immense job of helping to increase the longevity of the cemetery and that’s one of Lakewood’s primary principals in our mission statement, is to remain an active cemetery for as long as we possibly can.”

The new, 24,000-square-foot, two-level building would be built to the north of the existing mausoleum and add roughly 879 crypts and more than 4,000 niches for urns and cremated remains to the cemetery. It is also planned to include a gathering space, a terrace and a green roof.

The building would be set back about 226 feet from 36th Street and because it’s planned to be built in a recessed area, it would stand roughly a foot lower than the main mausoleum. The cemetery is seeking three land-use approavals from the city: a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) to allow the new building, another CUP to allow increased building height and a variance to alter a steep slope within the city’s Shoreland Overlay District.   

Gjerde said the structure would be made with only the “most enduring materials” that should ensure its survival for the next century. The project would not disturb any gravesites, he said.

Cemetery representatives met recently with the East Harriet Farmstead Neighborhood Association (EHFNA), which voted to support the development.

“Lakewood has been an extremely good neighbor,” said EHFNA president Matt Perry. “Their extra efforts to present this information continues to demonstrate what good neighbors they are.”

The Minneapolis Planning Commission will decide whether to approve the plans at its Feb. 22 meeting. If approved, Gjerde said construction would start this spring and finish in the fall of 2011.  

Lakewood Cemetery was founded in 1871 and spans more than 250 acres between Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet.