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UPDATE 2-WTC developer seeks government financial aid - WSJ

(Updates with statement from Silverstein Properties, paragraphs 4-6)

NEW YORK, March 21 (Reuters) - The private developer redeveloping the World Trade Center site in New York City has asked the government for financial assistance, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.

Quoting people familiar with the matter, the Journal said The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the government body that owns the site, is considering whether to help finance at least one of the three office towers planned in the project.

Sources said developer Larry Silverstein has sought financial help with at least two of the towers.

A spokesman for Silverstein blamed delays on the Port Authority but did not say whether it was seeking financial help.

“Unfortunately, the Port Authority has been unable to meet its obligations to deliver construction-ready sites or to maintain agreed-upon schedules for critical aspects of the World Trade Center rebuilding, including essential site infrastructure,” spokesman Bud Perrone said in an email to Reuters.

“As has been previously reported, the Port Authority and Silverstein Properties have entered into discussions about altering previously-agreed to timelines for the construction of several of the office towers and associated business arrangements,” Perrone said.

The Port Authority confirmed it was engaged in talks on the rebuilding.

“We are continuing to discuss with SPI (Silverstein Properties) how to best meet a changed market while ensuring the WTC site is rebuilt in the best public interest,” a statement obtained by Reuters said.

“In the meantime, the negotiations will be between the two parties, not in the press,” it added.

Reconstruction of the 16-acre (6.5-hectare) site destroyed in the Sept. 11 attacks has been plagued by controversy and delays. The plan calls for five skyscrapers, a memorial, a transit hub, a shopping mall and a performing arts center, much of which was expected to open between 2011 and 2013.

Reporting by Chris Michaud, additional reporting by Jim Marshall in Chicago; Editing by Eric Walsh