NEWS

Deal for New York church stalls

An agreement between authorities in New York and the Greek Orthodox Church in the USA to rebuild the historic Church of St Nicholas (Aghios Nikolaos), which was destroyed when the Twin Towers collapsed on September 11, 2001, has fallen through. It was revealed yesterday that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has withdrawn an offer to help rebuild the place of worship on another plot of land after claiming that the Archdiocese of America was making too many demands. «We have made an extraordinarily generous offer to resolve this issue and spent eight months trying to finalize the offer but the Church wanted even more on top of that,» Port Authority spokesman Stephen Sigmund said. Last July, the two sides unveiled a plan to rebuild the church just east of its original site as the land on which St Nicholas was located for 91 years was needed for the construction of a security screening center. The church was also set to receive $20 million. The church would also be given up to $40 million for the construction of a blast-proof platform and foundations. Talks between the two sides seem to have foundered on changes to the original plan and new demands by the church. The Port Authority reportedly told Church officials that the basilica of St Nicholas could not rise higher than the September 11 memorial while the Church is alleged to have asked for $20 million up front. The Church continues to have the right to rebuild at their original site and we will pay fair market value for the underground space beneath that building,» said Sigmund. The Archdiocese said it remains hopeful that a solution can be found. «We will continue to discuss in good faith and we believe that all parties involved are well intended and ultimately we will overcome any obstacles that have arisen,» said spokesman Stavros Papagermanos.