Image: St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in New York
Anonymous  /  AP
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in New York is seen near the base of the World Trade Center towers. Leaders of the church, which was destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001, have surrendered land needed to rebuild the World Trade Center site in a $20 million deal with the government.
updated 7/24/2008 2:33:39 AM ET 2008-07-24T06:33:39

The World Trade Center site’s owner has offered $20 million to acquire the 1,200-square-foot lot of a church destroyed on Sept. 11, freeing one more piece of land needed to rebuild every inch of ground zero.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s board was to consider a complicated land deal with the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church at a board meeting Thursday. The leaders of the 300-member congregation have been negotiating with the Port Authority for years over a price for the site where the church stood before the trade center’s south tower collapsed onto it on Sept. 11, 2001.

The church agreed to rebuild on a smaller lot a few blocks east.

The stalled negotiations for the church land were listed among more than a dozen obstacles to rebuilding the trade center site in a June 30 report written by the Port Authority’s executive director, Christopher Ward.

Builders needed the old church land to begin work on a southern foundation wall for the site; the agency was expected to hire a contractor for that job on Thursday.

Under the agreement, the Port Authority would pay $10 million and the other $10 million would come from JPMorgan Chase & Co., which made a tentative deal last year to build one of five office towers planned to replace the trade center.

The Port Authority would have to pay the $20 million if JPMorgan opted out.

Ward said in June that all projects at ground zero are over budget and behind schedule, and he said he would have new estimates in September.

Plans for five office towers, a memorial, a transit hub and a performing arts center were announced five years ago. None will be built by the 10th anniversary of the attacks, Ward has said.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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