Agreement signed to rebuild church at ground zero
The old St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church stood in the shadow of the World Trade Center before 9/11.
October 14th, 2011
04:08 PM ET

Agreement signed to rebuild church at ground zero

By Dan Merica, CNN

(CNN) - A decade after the 9/11 attacks, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America agreed Friday to rebuild the destroyed St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Manhattan.

The agreement stipulates that the church be rebuilt near the original site with slight modifications to the archdiocese's desired plans, the most noticeable being a nondenominational bereavement center at the east end of the structure.

“Rebuilding St. Nicholas Church, with a nondenominational bereavement center, is not just good news for the Greek Orthodox community, but for all New Yorkers,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement. “With this agreement, we are continuing New York’s collective healing, restoration and resurgence.”

The plan comes after a four-month study that concluded building the church at 130 Liberty St. would significantly reduce the cost and have no impact on the reconstruction schedule of the new World Trade Center.

“Our pledge is to be a witness for all New Yorkers, that freedom of conscience and the fundamental human right of free religious expression will always shine forth in the resurrected St. Nicholas Church,” Archbishop Demetrios said in a release about the agreement.

The church has been in Lower Manhattan for 85 years and was founded by Greek immigrants. The congregation of about 70 families pledged to rebuild the church after the structure was engulfed in debris and flames on 9/11.

Until Friday’s announcement, however, no real progress had been made.

In 2008, both sides tentatively agreed the church would be built near the original site, using millions of dollars in taxpayer money. But the following year, the Port Authority said the church made extra demands that threatened the construction.

According to Stephen Sigmund, a Port Authority spokesman, the issue in 2009 was whether  "tens of millions of public dollars should be spent to move the site to a different site on the World Trade Center site to build a church six times the size of the original church, and to make sure any arrangements for that didn't further delay the construction of the World Trade Center site."

Reprentatives from St. Nicholas told a different story at the time though.

"In our perspective, they walked away," Peter Drakoulias, an executive member of the church board, said in 2010.

To broker a deal, the leaders of the archdiocese reached out to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

“In 2009, Archbishop Demetrios sought my help in convening the Port Authority and state leadership to work on a solution, and I was glad to be of assistance,” Bloomber said in statement Friday. “Now, thanks to cooperation between all parties, a plan has been put in place that will give the community a new sanctuary and place for healing.”

As part of the new agreement, the church has agreed to swap its 155 Cedar St. land, the plot of the original church, with the land rights to the new church on Liberty Street. The Port Authority will now be responsible for all below-ground construction costs, while the archdiocese will pay for all costs related to above-ground construction.

Representatives of the Port Authority and Greek Orthodox Archdiocese signed the agreement Friday. The Port Authority board must now approve the final agreement, and upon doing so, all litigation between the archdiocese and the Port Authority will be terminated.

CNN's Eric Marrapodi, Mary Snow and Alexia Mena contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: 9/11 • Belief • Christianity • Church • Church and state • New York • United States

soundoff (209 Responses)

    There should be a huge cross on top of freedom tower!!

    November 22, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  2. Haley Wojcik

    No problem with it–But I was neutral about the Mosque as well.

    October 18, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  3. John


    October 18, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • .....

      GARBAGE ALERT – click the report abuse link this garbage isn't worth viewing. TROLL ALERT AGAIN!

      October 18, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  4. Pravda

    Cool, they are building a non-denominational bereavement center. Now there is no reason at all for Muslims to build a 9/11 victory mosque in the area.

    October 15, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Why not, they are building a non-denomination space in their Muslim center along with a mosque. Sounds like a cool idea.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:30 am |
  5. hippypoet

    god cleary didn't want the church there in the first place....so why build a second one against the wishes of your god...seems a bit ironic...don't ya think 🙂

    October 15, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Hmm.... the old structure was almost 100 year old.... maybe God wanted a new building. 🙂

      Good grief, I think its great that they are rebuilding.

      October 16, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  6. kimsland

    Religion is what got us into trouble in the first place.
    And now you want to rebuild some crazy money hungry church again?
    Get with the times. I say if a church falls it's your gods will.
    The less religion in this world the better for all.
    Please let us pray that more churches burn to the ground.

    October 15, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • prometheus

      It is your hope that churches burn to the ground but to whom will you pray and can do that?

      October 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  7. sinister1

    They allow another religious cult to build their temple near the site, but will not allow a mosque there also?

    October 15, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • Mark from Middle River

      Read the article.... the church was there for decades before the Towers were built.... they are not allowing a new church to be built... they are just restoring the ground underneath so that they can rebuild the structure that was destroyed in the attacks.

      October 15, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • David Johnson

      @Mark from Middle River
      You said: "Read the article.... the church was there for decades before the Towers were built.... they are not allowing a new church to be built... they are just restoring the ground underneath so that they can rebuild the structure that was destroyed in the attacks."

      Maybe a competing god wanted to do away with the church and the towers were just collateral damage...


      October 17, 2011 at 1:38 am |
  8. jakethethinker

    This god-delusion has to stop. Its a sickness.

    October 15, 2011 at 4:48 am |
    • HeavenSent

      The sickness jake is not being in tune with your spiritual self.


      October 15, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  9. Reality

    Wastng more time and money!!!

    Said funds should be used to either pay for the health care of NY citizens or to pay off the debt of either the state and/or the federal government.

    And there will be even more money saved as:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Budhism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for costly houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    October 14, 2011 at 11:44 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      >>>"Said funds should be used to either pay for the health care of NY citizens or to pay off the debt of either the state and/or the federal government. "

      USD $ 1.5 billion ($1.54 billion in 2011 dollars) ... The New Yankee's Stadium

      USD $900 million ($922 million in 2011 dollars)... Citi Field (Mets Stadium)

      USD $3 billion (February, 2007) ....New World Trade Center

      Reality my friend... Each of us can point to this project or that and if it is not something that we have a interest in or support ...the first thing we always hear folks declaring that the money spent would be spent better on the poor. Their favorite pet projects they are often unwilling to de-fund to help the same poor they bemoan. 🙁

      October 15, 2011 at 1:35 am |
    • *frank*

      Sports stadiums are terrible examples. Those are money-making ventures where people go to fawn over narcissists who act like they're god or something. This is a church we're talking about here.
      On second thought, maybe those are good examples...nevermind.

      October 15, 2011 at 2:15 am |
    • Reality

      How much money would the following save the US secular taxpayers ??

      Saving 1.5 billion lost Muslims:
      There never was and never will be any angels i.e. no Gabriel, no Islam and therefore no more koranic-driven acts of horror and terror

      One trillion dollars over the next several years as the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will end.

      Eighteen billion dollars/yr to Pakistan will stop.

      Four billion dollars/yr to Egypt will end.

      Saving 2 billion lost Christians including the Mormons:
      There was and never will be any bodily resurrections i.e. No Easter, no Christianity.

      The Mormon empire will now become taxable as will all Christian "religions" and non-profits since there is no longer any claim to being a tax-exempt religion. Ti-thes and other donations to various Christian sects would no longer be tax-deductible.

      Saving 15.5 million Orthodox followers of Judaism:
      Abraham and Moses probably never existed.

      Four billion dollars/yr to Israel saved.

      All Jewish sects and non-profits will no longer be tax exempt.

      Now all we need to do is convince these 3.5+ billion global and local citizens that they have been conned all these centuries Time for a Twitter and FaceBook campaign!!!!

      October 15, 2011 at 8:54 am |
    • HeavenSent

      Reality, do you truly want others to be as miserable as you?


      October 15, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      HS, do you truly want others to be as miserable as you are?

      Your posts are nothing more than the diary of a lonely old biddy who never had much of a life anyway and who has nothing better to do than tell everyone else he/she is going to burn.

      October 15, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Let's face facts. If I wasn't miserable, I wouldn't be here insulting everyone I can. Even still, I'm better than everyone. Just look at all of the awesome comments I post!

      October 17, 2011 at 5:30 pm |
  10. Central Scrutinizer

    They should build a sports bar their instead. They can still have services during commercials. More people worship athletes than God anyway so kill two birds with one stone.

    October 14, 2011 at 9:26 pm |
  11. Central Scrutinizer

    Hear this:

    1."Nirvana" – 5:24
    2."Big Neon Glitter" – 4:45
    3."Love" – 5:35
    4."Brother Wolf; Sister Moon" – 6:49 (Philippines version runs 5:18)
    5."Rain" – 3:55
    6."The Phoenix" – 5:06
    7."Hollow Man" – 4:45
    8."Revolution" – 5:20
    9."She Sells Sanctuary" – 4:23
    10."Black Angel" – 5:22

    Amen and alll that.

    October 14, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
    • Awkward Situations

      What is this?

      October 14, 2011 at 9:14 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      It is a cult, feel free to follow it.

      Oh, sorry! It is THE Cult. By bad.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:16 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      MY bad. Jeez, I screwed up the punch line on what was already a really corn-ball joke.

      My point: Sick of all the "cult" talk. It is not interesting and getting very old.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Central Scrutinizer, every time you atheists post, you seal my conviction in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. You too can convert from being miserable during life. Focus on Jesus is all anyone need do.


      October 14, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      For the fourth time, why do you sign all your posts with "amen". Are they all prayers? I still don't understand. And why do you always call me an athiest. I have never once said I was an athiest.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:24 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      Any time now heavensent. Two simple questions, you can do it. Put the Bible down, the answers aren't in there.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
    • Central Scrutinizer

      I should copy/paste more of my drivel for you all to not read at all. While I'm at it, maybe I'll find some more believers to insult as much as humanly possible to make me feel better about myself. I wish all of my friends were here. It sure is hard picking fights with people who are intelligent when I'm all alone : (

      October 14, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      HS, if you had any real conviction, you wouldn't be here. You need something and this forum gives it to you, when apparently your bible and your god do not.

      October 15, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Ah, I see CS's little stalker is here again.

      October 15, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Hate to burst your bubble Central Scrutinizer, or whatever your true handle is. I only pop into this blog once in a blue moon because it's always the same ole same ole. Nothing changes.

      You wrote "@heavensent, For the fourth time, why do you sign all your posts with "amen". Are they all prayers? I still don't understand. And why do you always call me an athiest. I have never once said I was an athiest."

      Answer: Amen means, so it is, that is that, so be it.

      Atheist, non-believers, fool. No matter what you call yourself, you refuse to learn Jesus' wisdom.


      October 15, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • Acronymic



      October 15, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      PERFECT! I love it. I'll remember it every time I see one of HS's idiotic posts.

      October 15, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  12. Mark from Middle River

    I am a bit familiar with that area and if the government is paying for all that is underground than it possibly the same as many things down there in that subway and other infrastructure would run way below the church with a layer of soil or similar over top of it to make it appear to be nothing under it.

    The article states that the structure of the church will be covered by the church so if this true how is this building the church. Sounds more like they are building the ground.

    October 14, 2011 at 8:58 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      Probably. Things have a way of being spun. Many articles like this tend to make it sound as though the government is blasting billions of dollars into the project just to get people riled up.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
    • Mark from Middle River

      No, we would never accuse the CNN belief blog writers and editors of just trying to get people riled up.... I do not believe those innocent lambs would ever print articles that would make people post at each others throats.

      October 14, 2011 at 9:29 pm |
    • Bearer Of Bad News

      I agree with all of my delicate heart in these words. Innocent lambs indeed they are.

      October 14, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
    • HeavenSent

      Mark from Middle River, the majority of CNN folks are heathens (do not believe in God). They write these articles so that they can learn from believers what the Christian community in this country is all about so they can boost their ratings and bring back their Christian audience that is sick of their "me, me, me and money agenda". All they need to do is go humble, read Jesus' truth, comprehend His wisdom, apply it to their lives to live a righteous life. We don't ask for much.


      October 15, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why don't you show us all how humble you are, HS?

      October 15, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.