The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at the World Trade Center will not open as hoped on the 20th anniversary of 9/11.
Alternatively, the public will get just a glimpse of the $100 million design from Spanish “starchitect” Santiago Calatrava at 8 p.m. on Sept. 10, when the building lights up for the first time.
The magnificent shrine, which is covered in the same type of marble used to build the Parthenon in Athens, is supposed to appear as if it’s glowing from the inside.
“It is going to be breathtaking,” said Michael Psaros, the vice-chairman of the Friends of St. Nicholas, which was formed in 2019 to help complete the project.
The shrine will then go dark for eight more months until its scheduled opening to the public in April 2022.
A year ago, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America had hoped the shrine finished by autumn.
Archbishop Elpidophoros, who heads the church in the US, said, “it will be completed and open to all people, on the 20th anniversary” of 9/11.
But Psaros said this week that only the exterior would be completed” by this September with pandemic-related delays. Work is to continue on the iconography inside the church.
It replaces the modest St. Nicholas Church on Cedar Street, which was destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, when the World Trade Center’s South Tower fell.
Construction for the replacement took years to get underway, as negotiations dragged on with the Port Authority, which owns the land upon which it sits. Former Governor Cuomo helped strike a deal in 2011.
But work came to a halt at the end of December 2017, when the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese ran out of money, and the church sat as a half-built eyesore.
Allegations of fiscal mismanagement surfaced, and authorities began investigations. Money designated for St. Nicholas went to shore up the broke Archdiocese’s finances and was paid back with interest, Psaros said.
The Friends of St. Nicholas managed to raise nearly $60 million to finish the shrine, according to Psaros as the construction had resumed in August 2020.