San Francisco is becoming a ghost town for funeral homes.
One of the last remaining funeral parlors in The City, Sullivan’s Funeral Home at 2254 Market St., will cease offering services at the end of the month and move to Daly City to make way for a mixed-use development that includes 45 new homes, underground parking and retail space.
The closure of Sullivan’s leaves less than a dozen funeral homes remaining in San Francisco, said James Sullivan, whose grandfather opened Sullivan’s on Market Street in 1924. When Sullivan, now 73, entered the business in 1970, there were 43.
“It’s not easy, but you have to face reality,” Sullivan said. “I’m too old to work every day, and my children and my brother’s children are all successful doing other things.”
The funeral home will reopen with its family name through Duggan’s Serra Mortuary in Daly City, with whom it has been operating already for the past seven years, said Sullivan.
Developers of the mixed-use project, however, will preserve the structure of the funeral home, which is considered a historic resource by The City.
The project also includes a five-story building constructed adjacent to the funeral home, on what is currently a surface parking lot. That building will weave around the funeral home, which will likely be used for commercial space.
Developers will also build a three-story, two-unit townhouse at 2157 15th St. and renovate three rent-controlled units at 2153-55 15th St.
The project was approved 4-0 by the Planning Commission on Feb. 11. Commission Vice President Dennis Richards was recused because he owns property within 500 feet of the project, and commissioners Cindy Wu and Christine Johnson were absent.
“I think the site is one of the more challenging sites I’ve seen in a long time,” said Commissioner Kathrin Moore. “It has not only two frontages with a through lot, but it actually has five irregular sites, which is monumental for any architect to even approach with a diagram.”
Moore added that she appreciated the balance between preserving the historic building and designing the new residential units, which will include 12 percent at below-market-rate as part of The City’s inclusionary requirement.
“I think it creates a really interesting space,” Moore said.
Commissioner Rich Hillis noted that the project complements the Market and Octavia Area Plan, which calls for mixed-use residential and commercial development in transit-served locations.
“This is what we expected and encouraged to see [in developing the plan] — a pretty underutilized parcel becoming additional housing, affordable housing and retail for that neighborhood,” Hillis said.
The project also includes 24 vehicle parking spaces in an underground garage, and 60 bicycle spaces.
Meanwhile, while Sullivan is nostalgic about leaving the property that his family business has called home for nearly a century, he is quick to point out the company itself is not dying.
“My family is comfortable with the business that we’ve had; we’ve enjoyed it,” Sullivan said. “We [will] miss the families that we serve but we’ll still be available. We’re not walking away, we’re just going to change locations.”