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Offer made on Glendale cemetery

The Hollywood facility's executives say they have the expertise to turn around the troubled Grand View Memorial Park, where state officials in 2005 found 4,000 bodies improperly buried.

April 25, 2011|Mark Kellam

The owners of Hollywood Forever Cemetery say they are interested in buying Glendale's troubled Grand View Memorial Park, which fell into scandal in 2005 when investigators discovered that 4,000 people had been improperly buried.

The sale of Grand View -- where public access has been limited for years since the facility fell into a state of disrepair -- is required under the terms of a $3.8-million settlement of a class-action lawsuit against the cemetery's operators.

The lawsuit came in the wake of a 2005 state investigation that found the remains of 4,000 people who had not been properly buried. The cemetery shut down a year later. It reopened with a new operator but closed again due to financial struggles.

Now, a $500,000 restoration of the cemetery grounds -- including a new irrigation system and the removal of dilapidated buildings for additional grave space -- is about 85% complete, said Paul Ayers, the attorney for the plaintiffs' families who was appointed to oversee the restoration.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday, April 27, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 41 words Type of Material: Correction
Glendale cemetery: An article in the April 25 LATExtra section about the Hollywood Forever Cemetery's interest in buying Grand View Memorial Park in Glendale included Mark Kellam's byline. The story was written by Melanie Hicken. Hicken may be reached at melanie.hicken@latimes.com.

Several potential buyers have expressed interest in the property, but Ayers cautioned that a sale could take several years as final settlement details are worked out.

"I think there are bona fide people interested in the cemetery," he said. "But I've been around this end of the cemetery business for a long time, and it's very slow."

Hollywood Forever officials on Monday said they have a list of ideas for making Grand View a viable business again, citing their experience in turning around the Hollywood cemetery, which was on the verge of closure when they bought it in 1998.

"We have made a formal offer," said Hollywood Forever President Tyler Cassity.

Hollywood Forever, the final resting place for a long list of celebrities, is now an active cemetery and regularly hosts community events, including summer movie screenings.

"It was a bankrupt cemetery," said Yogu Kanthiah, Hollywood Forever's chief executive. "We took over the cemetery and turned it around, and now it is a cultural landmark."

The state will have to sign off on any buyer.

"I think the state is going to be extremely discerning about who they allow to purchase that property," Ayers said. "They're going to want to see someone who has expertise in this field."

Meanwhile, family members will be confined to limited openings at Grand View, with the first of the year scheduled for Memorial Day.

mark.kellam@latimes.com

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