March 2, 2018 9:35 pm

Newly rebuilt Panagitsa Greek church may be forced to close down

WATCH: Three years after their church was burned to the ground, Montreal's Greek community was finally able to celebrate the reopening of Panagitsa. But as Global's Gloria Henriquez reports, the building may now be in jeopardy again – this time due to unpaid bills.

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It was rebuilt from the ground up after a devastating fire in 2015, but now the Greek Orthodox Koimisis Tis Theotokou Church in Park-Extension, affectionately known as Panagitsa is in danger once again.

The issue is due to unpaid bills.

The general contractor who built the church and other subcontractors have now placed a lien on the property.

The cost of rebuilding the church rose to about $4 million in total.

And although insurance covered most of the cost, there is still $600,000 left unpaid.

“It’s not just the construction part, there are also other costs… professional fees, permits, extras when it comes to Hydro Quebec, Gaz Metro… These things add up,” Achilles Nikopoulos, the community’s secretary of real estate and procurement said.


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WATCH ABOVE: Hellenic community is grieving the loss of Panagitsa

That debt puts the church’s future in question.

The Hellenic Community of Greater Montréal owns the building.

If they don’t pay in the next two months, a judge could force them to sell the property to clear its debt.

He says the community won’t let that happen.

“We’re working diligently right now with our financial institution, with our donors, and fundraising process is going to be ongoing to be able to clear this off,” Nikopoulos told Global News.

The general contractor, Construction Ecodomus, agrees, saying he’s confident he will be paid and is willing to be patient.

READ MORE: Fire seriously damages beloved Montreal Greek Orthodox church

“But also, there’s a certain limit at how much patience I can have because it’s affecting my business big time,” Ecodomus’ owner John Theodosopoulos said.

“The amount of time they spent explaining to my subcontractors and all that is cutting into my operations and into my business and I want to get over with this as soon as possible,” he said.

The Hellenic community says it has half of the money it owes and will pay up soon.

To come up with the other half, they’re planning a big fundraiser in April celebrating the church’s 50th anniversary.

Nikopoulos is also inviting people to come to the church and donate.

“We encourage people to see we’ve done something great.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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