WTC Greek Church Construction to Restart, Overseen by New Board

Work is expected to resume on the Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center. Construction came to a halt in December 2017. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jan. 04, 2020

The long-stalled, half-completed construction of the Greek church at the World Trade Center will restart under new leadership, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and officials of the Greek Orthodox Archdioces of America announced on Thursday. 

Friends of St. Nicholas, a new, independent 13-member board headed by former Battery Park City Authority chairman Dennis Mehiel, will raise money as well as oversee spending and construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center. Mired in alleged financial mismanagement by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and by escalating costs, the work on the building came to a halt two years ago.  

The marble-clad shrine on Liberty Park, south of the 9/11 Memorial Plaza, was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, and replaces the tiny St. Nicholas Church that was crushed beneath the collapsed World Trade Center.

Cuomo made the announcement with Archbishop Elpidophoros, head of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, whose predecessor, Archbishop Demetrios, resigned last May amid turmoil at the Archdiocese over misappropriated funds. Elpidophoros promised that the doors would open by Sept. 11, 2021, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

“I pledge to you, Gov. Cuomo, and to all the people of New York, that we will be ready; we will be on time, and we will be open to all women and men of good will who wish to honor the memory of all who perished on September 11th,” Elpidophoros said.

Like Calatrava’s nearby $4 billion Oculus, which cost twice its original estimated price, the cost for his shrine design has also soared, from $20 million to nearly $80 million. Skanska U.S.A. stopped construction of the project in December 2017 after declaring that the Archdiocese, which had received $39 million in donations, had defaulted on its payments.