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Construction work resumes on St Nicholas Church at Ground Zero

Work has started again on the moribund St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center although it likely won’t be visible for another month.

The Minnesota company fabricating the exterior screen for the long-stalled project was paid $5.7 million and has resumed working on it, Michael Psaros, the vice chairman of The Friends of St. Nicholas, told the New York Post.

The Friends of St Nicholas is trying to raise $42 million to finish the project.

Construction stopped in December 2017 when the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese ran out of money, leaving a half-built eyesore at the Trade Center site. The shrine will replace a more modest church destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the total cost is expected to reach $80 million.

A nonprofit group called Faith: An Endowment for Orthodoxy and Hellenism voted last week to donate $20 million to the shrine, according to a report in The National Herald, a newspaper that covers the Greek community.

Psaros would not comment on the donation. He said George Marcus, a Greek-American real estate billionaire, kicked in $2 million.

Work on the church itself should begin in March, Psaros said. The Archdiocese has pledged to finish it by Sept. 11, 2021.

St. Nicholas Church stood for 85 years at 155 Cedar St., in a three-story row house built around 1830 as a private residence. A group of Greek families raised $25,000 to buy it in 1892, and it opened its doors as a church in 1916.

Named after the patron saint of sailors, the church was the first stopping point for many Greek immigrants after they left Ellis Island. As skyscrapers went up around it, the modest church added one floor to the whitewashed structure that sat, for years, in the shadow of the Twin Towers.

The cost of the project once pegged at $30 million could now reach upward of $80 million. Some blame the pricey design changes on famed Spanish “starachitect” Santiago Calatrava, others on the church leaders.

A NYP article for 2018, describes as “a bold, and expensive, move,” that the Archdiocese hired Calatrava to design its new cathedral.

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