The St. Nicholas Church was built in 1916 and was crushed when the World Trade Center towers collapsed. As part of the neighborhood's reconstruction, the Port Authority proposed a swap of the church property for a piece of land down the street so that the agency could build a center for screening vehicles. In exchange, the agency would give the church millions of dollars to build a bigger church.The church was also planning on building a non-sectarian memorial on part of its site open to all faiths to contemplate and reflect.
The church says the two sides had mostly agreed on the terms when the Port Authority abruptly pulled out of talks in 2009. The Port Authority claims the church was demanding too much money.
"After eight months of negotiations in which the demands of the Orthodox Church continued to increase over and above what was originally agreed to in 2008, the Port Authority had to make a practical decision to move on or risk further delaying the entire World Trade Center project," the agency said in a written statement.
The Port Authority has said it offered $20 million of financing, plus as much as $40 million to cover extra costs related to the construction of a Port Authority parking lot under the church. It claims the church wanted a building six times bigger than its original one.
The church said that was only fair because it was giving up the valuable "air rights" over its original site. Air rights allow builders to put skyscrapers on small pieces of land.
Talks fell apart last year, and the Port Authority hasn't taken any action to rebuild or advance the talks even though the former Deutsche Bank building has now been fully dismantled.
Meanwhile, planners for the 9/11 Memorial say that access to the memorial will be limited for several years once the memorial opens to the public in September because of the ongoing construction immediately adjacent to the memorial that limits how many people can safely view the memorial.
Organizers will observe strict capacity limits for safety reasons, Mr. Daniels said. Plans call for a limit of 1,500 visitors at a time, with special consideration given to relatives of Sept. 11 victims.Priority access would be given to families of those victims who were murdered on 9/11 and people would have to receive time-stamped ticketing to access the site.
Visitors will have to sign up online for available spots and print tickets.
The foundation president presented details of the opening to a downtown Manhattan community board on Monday night.
The 1,776-foot 1 World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, is being built just northwest of the memorial site and will not open until 2013. Hundreds of trees will still need to be planted on the eight-acre memorial plaza after Sept. 11, 2011, and cobblestones will need to be filled in.
The transit hub will not be completed until at least 2015. Visitors from the general public will be allowed in Sept. 12, the day after a 10th-anniversary ceremony for invited guests.
How the memorial organizers are going to be able to accommodate family members remains to be seen.