NEW YORK CITY-Everyone can exhale. MetLife has sold Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village to a joint venture of Tishman Speyer and BlackRock Realty, the real estate arm of BlackRock Inc.

The sales price was not released by the Tishman camp, but MetLife in a statement confirmed that the massive complex went for $5.4 billion. The pending sale was the buzz of the late summer and pulled such names as Apollo, ING, Vornado and Related to the bidding process. As reported earlier today, the tenants association was also a figure to be reckoned with in the process, with a $4.5-billion bid.

The sale, expected to close in Q4, will deliver to Metropolitan Tower Life Insurance Co., the MetLife affiliate that actually held the keys, some $3 billion in net gains net of income tax.

In the MetLife statement, Robert Merck, head of real estate investments, reflected on the duration of the hold and the clamor to win the prize. “This property has been a prominent asset in MetLife’s real estate portfolio for nearly six decades,” he said. “MetLife considered offers from many highly qualified bidders, including the PCVST Tenant’s Association and some of the world’s leading real estate owners and operators.”

The complex, which encompasses 11,232 units on First Avenue between 14th and 23rd streets, was built by MetLife in the late 1940s.

Tishman Speyer will be the JV’s managing partner. Wachovia and Merrill Lynch & Co. are acting as advisors and lenders to Tishman Speyer and BlackRock. Darcy Stacom and William Shanahan of CBRE acted as the agents for MetLife.

In a statement, Tishman Speyer president and CEO Jerry I. Speyer promised a steady-as-you-go philosophy of management, clearly to alleviate fears of a tenancy shake-up that brewed in recent weeks. “The thousands of tenants in rent-stabilized apartments are completely protected by the existing system,” he said. “No one should be concerned about a sudden or dramatic shift in this neighborhood’s make-up, character or charm.”

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