New Jersey-based real estate developer Ed Bixby never expected to get into the cemetery business. But when he and his mother were visiting his infant brother’s grave at Steelmantown Cemetery in Upper Township, New Jersey, they were horrified by the state of the grounds. Bixby told the owner he wanted the cemetery cleaned up, or he would buy it. The owner sold him Steelmantown for a dollar in 2007. Fourteen years later, Bixby is a cemeterian who owns four historic cemeteries and is president of the Green Burial Council. The problem with historic cemeteries is they’re expensive to maintain while often bringing in little or no profit. When they become unkempt, they’re neighborhood eyesores and offensive to people whose loved ones are buried there. Bixby has been able to use his developer’s eye to improve the grounds and raise community awareness of cemeteries as local green spaces that the living can also use. He also figures out how to maximize space within his cemeteries so they can continue serving people’s interment needs for many years to come. As populations grow and urban spaces become tighter, figuring out how to make the most of existing cemeteries is an important lesson […]

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