It surely won’t be your typical funeral home. The owners of Messinger Payson Funeral Home broke ground Monday for a new, 14,000-square-foot mortuary that will handle more than just funeral arrangements.
While the new space will accommodate funerals and autopsies, other parts of the building will be available for meetings and community events.
“The new facility will provide two spacious chapels, a recreation room with a catering kitchen to serve those in attendance,” a press release states.
“It is anticipated that this building will provide many services unavailable today in Payson.”
The facility will sit on a two-acre site at 900 S. Westerly Drive, just south of Main Street, in what is now a grassy meadow.
Once completed in 2011, the mortuary will be three times larger than the existing space off west Aero Drive, which sits at 6,000 square feet.
Lyle Ferguson built the current space four decades ago.
The community outgrew the modest, cement building years ago and owners Paul and Cora Messinger knew they would need to build a new space to handle a growing demand for more services, including after-service gatherings.
Typically after funerals, families like to hold gatherings where food and drinks are served. The existing space barely accommodates this with a small meeting room.
The new, 1,700-square-foot community room will feature tables for 150 people, a large patio and LCD TV and a kitchen. Local caterers can bring food, or a family can bring their own.
“A place where people, who often don’t see each other for many months or years, can share great stories. Food is a catalyst for conversation,” Mr. Messinger said. “The time spent after the service is precious and this room can be a special place for those who haven’t been together for a long time.”
The community room will also be open to the public for special functions, like game nights, parties and meetings. The space can be closed off from the rest of the facility and guests can enter through a separate entrance.
The new mortuary will also hold two chapels, the first capable of holding 170 people and the other, 100.
Currently, Messinger’s chapel only accommodates 75 people.
“There will be quality visitation rooms, projection equipment for videos and the ability to record services,” Mr. Messinger said. “The facility will be as fine as any in Arizona and have many elements found in only a few mortuaries in the state.”
In addition, the new facility will have a forensic autopsy room. Currently, bodies are driven to Tucson for autopsy, but having a medical examiner onsite will mean faster results for family and authorities.
Mr. Messinger said it took two years of planning, re-zoning and financial wrangling, to finally break ground on the new mortuary.
Once the facility is complete, Mr. Messinger believes its improved efficiency and expanded services will reduce the company’s overhead and “should help us hold our current price in line and may even lower a few prices from today’s level.”
Contractor Mike Amon is expected to begin building next week with construction complete in eight to 10 months.
“We plan to be here 20 years from now when it is paid for,” Mr. Messinger said. “Our firm has three generations of Messingers working within our business. We believe in Payson and the surrounding communities and we see a great future here.”
Lee Hutchison is the architect on the project, Verde Engineers the engineering firm and LVA Urban Design Studio the land planners.