Construction of Greek Orthodox church destroyed on 9/11 put on hold

Updated: Wednesday, December 27, 2017, 12:33 PM

The St. Nicholas National Shrine (c.) is seen under construction. (MARK LENNIHAN/AP)

Say a prayer for the St. Nicholas National Shrine.

The project to replace the tiny Greek Orthodox church destroyed in the 9/11 attacks has been put on hold amid rising costs and potential financial mismanagement.

The development marks the latest setback for the long-stalled building designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, who created the $4.4 billion bird-like transit hub at the World Trade Center.

“In light of recent financial difficulties at the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and in order to make certain that all operations and funds are being correctly managed, this difficult yet necessary step has been taken,” the archdiocese said in a statement posted to its website.

The estimated cost of the shrine was listed at $20 million when its design was announced in 2013.

The plans call for the building, modeled after Byzantine shrines in Turkey, to be sheathed in marble from quarries north of Athens.

By September, the cost had ballooned to $50 million. Just three months later, it soared to an estimated $72 million to $78 million, according to the New York Times.

The archdiocese said it hired two firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers and BakerHostetler, to probe the rebuilding of St. Nicholas, which is being funded through donations.

“In addition, the Archdiocese will reevaluate its fundraising strategy moving forward and will continue to explore ways to cut costs, concurrently maintaining the historic vision of the church,” it said.

“The Archdiocese remains committed to the rebuilding of Saint Nicholas and the fundraising efforts to support this important project and ministry.”

Skanska USA, the construction company building the shrine, said it halted construction after going an unspecified amount of time without receiving payments.

Skanska said it had already pushed back payment deadlines and tried in vain to discuss alternate strategies to keep the project going.

“We regret that stopping work was the only viable option at this point in time,” Skanska USA Executive Vice President Tom Webb said in a statement to the Associated Press.

“We are confident that they will find the funding to complete this work at some point in the future.”