A drop in the collection plate: Greek Orthodox church gets loan to restart — but not finish — St. Nicholas construction

Work on the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at the eastern tip of Liberty Park was halted last year because the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America defaulted on payments to its contractors.
Photo by Joseph M. Calisi

BY JOSEPH M. CALISI

The Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America has closed a deal with Alma Bank for a 10-year, $5.5-million mortgage to restore monies to the unfinished St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine at Liberty Park.

Work on the reconstruction of the church, which was destroyed in the 9/11 attacks 17 years ago, ground to a halt late last year after the archdiocese defaulted on payments to contractors amid a financial scandal.

The state Attorney General’s office launched an investigation into the church’s handling of the project funds in April, and the church established its own investigative committee — which includes former Battery Park City Authority board chairman Dennis Mehiel.

The archdiocese hopes to resume construction on St. Nicholas in early September, according to a spokesman for the archdiocese, but the fresh funding is not enough to complete the project, whose has ballooned to $80 million. The archdiocese plans to launch a new fund-raising cycle under a new committee soon.

But last month, billionaire grocer John Catsimatidis penned a letter to the archdiocese calling for 90-year-old Archbishop Demetrios to resign, saying that he and other deep-pocketed donors will not put any more money toward the project until the archdiocese has new leadership.

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