Cuomo seeks donors to finance long-stalled shrine at WTC

The governor tapped billionaire John Catsimatidis to raise the $40 million the project needs to finish

John Catsimatidis, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox National Shrine and Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty)
John Catsimatidis, St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox National Shrine and Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty)

The stalled re-construction of a Greek Orthodox church at Ground Zero is getting a second wind — this time from Gov. Cuomo.

The governor has lobbied for seven donors to step up and help finance the reconstruction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox National Shrine, which was destroyed in the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, the New York Post reported.

“He wants the church finished,” said John Catsimatidis, Red Apple Group founder and one of the donors, to the outlet. Cuomo also hopes Democratic donor Dennis Mehiel and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas join the group, according to the paper’s sources. (Earlier this spring, Catsimatidis also got an invite to Cuomo’s quiet fundraiser.)

A spokesperson for Cuomo said that the governor contacted the Port Authority, which owns the land and leases it to the church for $1 a year, and “is trying to help the project that has been stalled for years,” according to the Post.

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When the design by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava was announced in 2013, the structure, intended to glow at night, was supposed to cost $20 million. That rose to $35 million in 2015, at the time of the ground-breaking, and has only ballooned since.

In December 2017, the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese ran out of money amid reports that the Archidiocese had misappropriated funds. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is now investigating the matter.

The project’s estimated cost is now about $80 million, so the church still needs some $40 million to be complete it. Donors would be ready to contribute on the condition that a new group was leading the project, according to Catsimatidis.

“If the Archdiocese is in charge, they’re not giving the money,” he told the Post. [NYP] — Mary Diduch