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Florida, St. Petersburg Lead National Cremation Trend
Date:3/24/2010

t;It's a tidal-wave movement within our industry," said McQueen, who reported that 82 percent of his customers who make their funeral plans in advance choose cremation.

"What we're seeing is that cremation is a very acceptable form of dealing with the death of a loved one," said Sheree Graves, executive director of Cathedral Columbaria Inc., which operates the City Peace Garden. "Our families say they like the idea of making their plans now, of knowing that they will be placed in a unique location that is meaningful to them and easy for their loved ones to visit. It's all about convenience, cost and comfort."

The City Peace Garden will be the largest all-faiths columbarium in the Tampa Bay area exclusively devoted to cremation memorials. It is currently under construction at 120 Fourth St. N in downtown St. Petersburg, oppo¬site the city's Wil¬liams Park and next door to St. Peter's Epis¬co¬pal Cathe¬dral, which owns the colum¬bar¬ium prop¬erty and is the chari¬ta¬ble recipi¬ent of its pro¬ceeds. Two-thirds of the historic Baptist Sanctuary was demolished to create the open space for the Peace Garden. The front third of the sanctuary, with its signature columns and steps, is undergoing renovation.

There will be 2,000 glass-fronted niches inside the restored sanctuary; outside, the landscaped garden will initially accommodate another 1,000 bronze-fronted niches.

"People are thrilled that we've found a way to preserve the beautiful facade of the Baptist Sanctuary," Graves said. "The cathedral, next door to us, just received city landmark status. The Princess Martha Hotel south of us is already a landmark, as is the Open-Air Post Office just across the street and the Snell Arcade next to it. In the space of two blocks we have a tremendous collection of historically significant buildings, all of them open, thriving, operating. It's a preservation
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