Construction on the Santiago Calatrava-designed St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center has halted, after the church failed to make a series of payments over a several month period to contractor Skanska.
As revealed by the Pappas Post, last week the construction company distributed a letter to its subcontractors informing them that the building contract had been terminated after The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America defaulted on making payment. In the letter, Skanska directed subcontractors to stop all work and to remove all tools and materials from the site, or risk not being able to recover them.
A follow-up statement from Skanska confirmed the cease of construction, and added that they will “remain available to the Archdiocese as they continue to evaluate how to proceed at the site.”
“In light of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America’s ongoing funding challenges, Skanska regrets that we must cease construction on the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center,” reads the statement.
“Skanska is proud of our long history of work at the World Trade Center site, which ranges across half a century from the construction of the original towers to the recently completed Oculus. This site is important to us—as it is to many people—and we have worked with the Archdiocese throughout its well-documented, recent financial difficulties to extend payment deadlines and discuss alternatives, all while continuing to construct the Shrine.”
Earlier this year, the Pappas Post uncovered “gross financial mismanagement and out-of-control spending” by the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America that saw restricted funds allocated for various projects (including the National Shrine) raided to pay for day-to-day operations, travel expenses and other administrative costs.
In response, the Archdiocese has hired a new chairman to lead the church’s finance committee and commissioned an audit. The church also plans to form an investigative committee to determine paths to continue construction on the National Shrine.
Designed to replacing a chapel destroyed during the 9/11 attacks, the National Shrine will sit on land owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and is leased to the church for $1 per year.
The Santiago Calatrava-designed St. Nicholas National Shrine at the World Trade Center has topped out, and capped with a temporary, six-foot-tall cross. The Byzantine-styled structure was envisioned by Calatrava in 2013 as a non-denominational spiritual center to replace the original St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, located at 155 Cedar Street, which was destroyed on 9/11.