Two years after a payment dispute between Skanska USA and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America (GOA) shut down construction at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, things are finally back on track. On January 2, Governor Cuomo announced that work would soon resume under the oversight of a new board.
Santiago Calatrava’s $80 million design for the new St. Nicholas in Manhattan’s World Trade Center complex was revealed in 2013 and was set to replace the 1916 structure destroyed on September 11th. The structure, a ribbed central space that would be illuminated from within and ensconced between four burly pillars, was intended to seem both resilient and reference the Hagia Sophia.
Although the GOA and city had been negotiating for years over the fate of the site and the GOA had signed a $1, 198-year lease, Skanska terminated their contract in 2017 after the Archdiocese failed to pay their outstanding bills.
At last estimate, there was still a $40 million shortfall, and in April of last year, the Governor personally intervened—reaching out to potential donors—to try to get the project moving again.
Now, construction will be overseen by the new, 13-member nonprofit board, “the Friends of St. Nicholas,” which is aiming to have the church finished in the next two years. The board will reportedly be responsible for raising money, overseeing the construction process, and holding audits to make sure the project stays on schedule. It should be mentioned that many of the board members (including the billionaire Gristedes owner John Catsimatidis, and former Chairman of the Battery Park City Authority Dennis Mehiel) were among those that Governor Cuomo reached out to April, according to the New York Post.
Although there was no announcement of when work would resume, or if Skanska would return, a 2022 completion date would be four years after the originally planned opening. Although the project broke ground in 2014 and the church topped out in 2016, the site has sat vacant and draped with a tarp since December 2017.