The Selling of Stuy Town

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To flip through the pages of the 2006 offering book for potential buyers of the 11,200-apartment Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village-a deal that has devolved into the largest individual property default in modern history-is to immerse oneself in an historical delusion, one that, from today’s privileged vantage point, appears as likely as Iraqi WMDs.

The book wove the strands of possible Stuy Town revenue into a real estate dreamscape, one in which the largely rent-regulated complex could become a wealthier community, complete with an elite private school, gourmet grocery shops, private spas, gated communities, Santa Cecilia granite countertops in every apartment.

“With the surge in market rental increases showing no signs of abating, there is immense upside potential, especially for stabilized units rolling to market rates,” reads the 73-page offering book, prepared by Darcy Stacom, one of the city’s top investment sales brokers.

If the failed $6.3 billion Stuyvesant Town deal-sealed in late 2006 by seller MetLife and buyers led by Tishman Speyer-is emblematic of nearly everything that went wrong with the real estate world during this most recent boom, the marketing of the historically middle-income property is emblematic of the unexamined contribution of top brokers to the era’s fantastical mind-set.

As conversations with numerous executives involved with the bidding process illustrate, the role of Ms Stacom and other advisers was essentially to pour lubricant into an ever-accelerating dealmaking machine, one that would eventually implode.


Ms. Stacom, 50, is a real estate titan in her own right, as admired for her business acumen and salesmanship as she is feared for her mercurial temper.

New York born and Greenwich raised, Ms. Stacom, who declined comment for this story, was nurtured in real estate. Both of her parents, Matthew and Claire Stacom, were Cushman & Wakefield brokers. Her father most famously consulted in the development and leasing of the Sears Tower (now the Willis Tower). When she was 14, she worked in the Cushman & Wakefield mailroom.

She began her brokerage career at Cushman & Wakefield, defecting in 2002 for archrival CB Richard Ellis. Her sister, Tara, remains at Cushman. Her husband is a broker at Jones Lang LaSalle. It wasn’t easy being a woman broker in a real estate world where men, even now, behave like extras in Mad Men. In 1996, when she was pregnant with one of her daughters, Ms. Stacom pitched a deal to a potential client, only to be asked what would happen were she to have complications during childbirth. She didn’t get the gig. In interviews, she prides herself on her eccentricities: She prefers colorful skirts to business suits, funky costume jewelry to the real stuff.

The Selling of Stuy Town