Rebuilding of Greek Orthodox Church Destroyed on 9/11 Nears Completion 20 Years Later

The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, center, is nearing completion, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, at the World Trade Center in New York. The construction of the only house of worship destroyed in the attacks of September 11, 2001, is now proceeding briskly after years of delays. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
The St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, center, is nearing completion, Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, at the World Trade Center in New York. The construction of the only house of worship destroyed in the attacks of September 11, 2001, is now proceeding briskly after years of delays. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEW YORK (AP) — Two decades after its destruction in the Sept. 11 attacks, the work to rebuild the World Trade Center complex remains incomplete.

Two planned skyscrapers, a performing arts center and a church are still unfinished at the site, which plays host Saturday to the annual ceremony honoring nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks.

Visitors to the commemoration will find a place that no longer has the feel of a construction zone, though, even as the work continues.

The memorial plaza with its twin reflecting pools opened in 2011. One World Trade Center — the spire originally known as the Freedom Tower — opened in 2014, as did the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. An underground transit hub and shopping mall opened in 2016. Three other glassy towers built to replace those lost in the attack are open.

Cranes and construction fences, however, can still be seen around the site.

Planned as the second tallest skyscraper at the site, 2 World Trade Center, might someday reach 80 stories. But for now, just a low stump of a building exists as a placeholder, covered with colorful graffiti-style murals at the northeast corner of the Trade Center site.

After years of delays, the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center is under construction just to the west of 2 World Trade Center’s future site and is scheduled to open in 2023.

Construction has yet to begin on the tower that will replace an office building, occupied by Deutsche Bank, that was was damaged and contaminated by debris from the collapsing twin towers. The original building was demolished between 2007 and 2011.

The long-delayed construction of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine, replacing the only house of worship destroyed in the attacks, is now proceeding briskly after years of delays.

The building, designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, is going up near the southeast corner of ground zero and will look down on the memorial plaza from a perch atop another building that holds the entrance to the World Trade Center’s underground garage.

Slated for completion next year, the church is surrounded by a small public park and features a Byzantine-style dome and marble cladding that can be lit from within.

The project was first delayed by a dispute over location between the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center. Then, project costs soared and construction halted in late 2017 after the archdiocese fell behind on payments.

A new entity, Friends of St. Nicholas, led by a core of wealthy Greek Americans, assumed management on behalf of the archdiocese and raised the remaining funds. Construction resumed in August 2020, with final cost estimates of close to $85 million.

The archdiocese plans a lighting ceremony on Sept. 10 at the unfinished building.