The fact that the mammoth Peter Cooper Village/Stuyvesant Town apartment complex in Manhattan is heading back to its lenders is no surprise. But who ultimately ends up with the asset after the tug of war for control will be a great source of intrigue for the industry over the next year.

Tishman Speyer Properties and BlackRock, bloodied after years of fighting with their residents over rent raises that the firms had counted on when they bought the property for a record $5.4 billion in 2006, handed the complex back to its lenders in late January.

In the aftermath of the default, Bloomberg reported that Freddie Mac may provide financing for the property should a buyer emerge. Even then, a deal won’t be easy. Most market observers believe that institutional investment interest may be more tepid this time around and that private equity is likely to win out.

Regardless of who eventually makes the purchase, Peter Von Der Ahe, vice president of investments and director for Encino, Calif.-based Marcus and Millichap’s National Multi Housing Group, is optimistic that eventual resolution of the troubled property’s loans could ultimately signal to the market that stability is on the way. “We’ve been waiting for a sign that the deleveraging process is beginning,” he says. “It’s a painful thing to go through, but it lets you know you’re one step closer to the other side, which is stabilization and growth.”