updated 10/17/2006 2:00:13 PM ET 2006-10-17T18:00:13

MetLife on Tuesday said it has sold Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town for $5.4 billion, ending a high-stakes bidding war that included protests from residents who wanted to stop the middle-class apartment complex in Manhattan from falling into the hands of developers.

MetLife Inc., one of the nation’s top insurers, sold the complex to Tishman Speyer in a joint venture with BlackRock Realty, the real estate arm of BlackRock, Inc. The sale is expected to close later this year.

“Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town is an extraordinary asset and we are very pleased with the market reaction we received to this sale,” said Robert Merck, head of real estate investments for MetLife. “This property has been a prominent asset in MetLife’s real estate portfolio for nearly six decades.”

The properties together make up the largest apartment complex in Manhattan, totaling over 11,000 units, spread over 80 acres.

The complex was built in the late 1940s as housing for returning World War II veterans, and the vast majority of the units are rent-stabilized, meaning the tenants pay below market value. Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant town has been called the last bastion of middle-class housing amid the super-charged real estate market of Manhattan.

“As a business with deep roots in New York City, we have a sincere appreciation for these cherished neighborhoods, and we are honored to become stewards of the property,” said Tishman Speyer president and CEO Jerry I. Speyer. “We are committed to working closely with residents, elected officials and community leaders to help ensure a dynamic and vibrant future for this New York community.”

Speyer said the residents of rent-stabilized apartments are completely protected by the existing system.

“No one should be concerned about a sudden or dramatic shift in this neighborhood’s make-up, character or charm,” he said.

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