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Shepherd property brings $2 million in foreclosure auction — so far

Thos. Shepherd & Son Inc., the funeral business shuttered by state regulators in December 2021 after 118 years of serving grieving families in Hendersonville, could reopen as a funeral home operated by a multi-state provider of the service, be bulldozed and emerge as a “reimagined” development or become something else.

That’s where things stood after a foreclosure auction on the courthouse steps Monday that ended with a high bid — for now — of $2,025,000. The bid was offered by Altmeyer Funeral Homes, which operates more than 40 funeral homes and cremation facilities on the East Coast, including Shuler-Forest Lawn in Hendersonville.
The office of the Clerk of Superior Court ordered the foreclosure sale in February after determining that Melody Shepherd and Thomas R. “Tom” Shepherd, who died on Dec. 31, had failed to make payments since last May on a loan of $793,358 against the property they received in March of 2018. The total of the debt, interest and late fees to First Bank plus cost of the sale and other charges stood at $827,779.91 as of 11 a.m. Monday when court-appointed trustee Jennifer Belter Formichella climbed the steps of the Grove Street Courthouse and opened the bidding for the property.

Bidders volley 24 times

There were three active bidders for the first few rounds, then two. Bidding for Altmeyer, company president James E. “Jimmy” Altmeyer Jr. matched and finally topped the other remaining bidder, David Lee, a real estate broker with Five-Star Realty in Hendersonville.
After 24 bids and counter-bids, Formichella announced that Altmeyer’s bid of $2,025,000 was “going once, going twice, sold.” But that’s not the end. Under the law the sale is held open and subject to upset bid for 10 days.
If his client were to get the property at 125 S. Church St., Lee said, the investor plans to clear it for an entirely new development.
“He would redevelop the whole block, take the block down to dirt and start over again — reimagine, redevelopment the whole thing,” Lee said. He said Altmeyer told him, “‘You’re going to tear all that down and I’m going to use it’ but actually the opposite is true,” Lee said. “It’s worth more to me to tear it all down and start over. We’ll probably do an upset bid. We had already made an offer on the property a month ago.”
The brick funeral home is valued on the tax books at $888,200 while the land was assessed at $1,006,200 for a total value of $1,894,400, tax records show.
Founded in 1917 in Wheeling, West Virginia, Altmeyer Funeral Homes and Crematory has expanded over the years to Ohio, Virginia, North Carolina and Florida. In addition to Shuler-Forest Lawn, Altmeyer owns Mountain View Cremation & Funeral Care in Arden. Altmeyer was accompanied Monday by Chae Davis, vice president and general manager of Shuler-Forest Lawn.
His company “absolutely” plans to respond to any potential upset bids, Altmeyer said, and hopes to move forward with plans to reopen on South Church Street “and carry on the tradition that the Shepherds developed for many years.”
Despite the numerous financial and regulatory problems she and the business have faced since 2018, Melody Shepherd as the legal property owner stands to receive the balance of the sale price minus the $828,000 owed on the second mortgage.
“That’s how it usually works,” her attorney, Michael Edney, said Tuesday. “I would say stay tuned. I would anticipate a number of upset bids before it’s final. Everything’s going the way it’s supposed to go legally.”
The Lightning’s efforts to reach Melody Shepherd have been unsuccessful.
The foreclosure sale marks a final chapter in the legacy of a respected business that served the area for more than 11 decades in funeral services downtown and, since 1954, cremation and burial at Shepherd Memorial Park on Asheville Highway. State regulators closed Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors last Dec. 8 and revoked the licenses of Tom Shepherd, the third generation owner, and Melody Shepherd after investigations into complaints and funeral-practice regulations dating to 2018 and earlier. Shepherd Memorial Park, which like the funeral home has been the subject of numerous consumer complaints, is now under receivership and operated by a court-appointed manager.