A death services provider outmaneuvered local developers to win this sprawling piece of raw land

Service Corporation International runs a Jewish cemetery next door
By Dennis Lynch | July 24, 2019 05:00PM

SCI paid $32 million for 28 acres next to its Groman Eden Mortuary and Eden Memorial Park (Credit: iStock)

SCI paid $32 million for 28 acres next to its Groman Eden Mortuary and Eden Memorial Park (Credit: iStock)

Don’t fear the reaper — just sell him the land he wants to buy.

Service Corporation International — North America’s largest provider of funeral and cemetery services — last week closed a $32 million deal for a 28-acre property in the north San Fernando Valley.

The property 11630 Indian Hills Road in Mission Hills hit the market a year ago. The owner, Melrose-based entity Arrowtail LLC, purchased the property in 2006 for $13 million and had leased the land out to farmers.

SCI runs a cemetery next door, but initially wasn’t in the pool of prospective buyers. Instead there were four senior living developers competing to close, according to IREA Partner William Everitt, who’s firm repped both parties in the eventual deal.

SCI wooed Arrowtail with its ability to close a deal quicker than the developers, which needed time to consider development potential. Everitt said SCI plans to build a new cemetery on the land.

Cemeteries are big business, particularly in urban areas where undeveloped land is scarce. Plots in New York City’s many cemeteries can go for between $4,500 and $19,000 before maintenance and other fees.

Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch paid $20,000 to arrange his burial at Manhattan’s Trinity Church. Some coveted cemeteries have completely ended new burials. Others are seeing declining revenue as they run out of land to sell.

SCI is a public company that has at least 2,000 funeral homes and cemeteries in operation in North America. In 2013 it acquired its main competitor Stewart Enterprises, Inc. in a $1.4 billion deal. The company mostly expands via acquisitions of smaller and independent funeral homes and cemeteries.

The largely flat property is near the junction of Interstate 5 and Interstate 405. Next door is SCI’s Groman Eden Mortuary and Eden Memorial Park, the resting place of numerous Jewish figures in show business, including comedians Lenny Bruce and Groucho Marx.