Construction on a Greek Orthodox church meant to replace one that was crushed in the Sept. 11 attacks has been temporarily suspended amid rising costs and questions over how donations have been managed. The St. Nicholas National Shrine next to the World Trade Center memorial plaza was to replace a tiny church obliterated when the trade center's south tower fell, reports the AP. The new building was designed by renowned architect Santiago Calatrava, who created the soaring white bird-like mall and transit hub nearby called the Oculus. But unlike the transit hub, built largely with federal transportation dollars, the church is being funded through donations including from the Greek government, Greek Orthodox church members, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, and the Italian city of Bari, whose patron saint is St. Nicholas.
In September, the estimated cost was $50 million. But according to the New York Times, which first reported the work suspension, the cost had jumped to an estimated $72 million to $78 million as of this month. Two firms, PricewaterhouseCoopers and BakerHostetler, were hired to perform an independent investigation into the construction, according to a Dec. 9 statement posted on the website of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America. The stoppage was ordered by the construction company on the project, Skanska USA, the statement said. Skanska said it had extended payment deadlines and discussed alternatives with the archdiocese to try to keep the project going but ultimately had to halt construction. The original St. Nicholas was the only building not part of the trade center complex that was demolished after hijackers flew commercial jets into the towers.