MetLife Inc. has signed a 21-year lease at 1095 Avenue of the Americas in Midtown Manhattan.

The deal means that MetLife, New York, will be pulling back from an effort to keep key management operations in Long Island City, a community in the borough of Queens with a booming residential real estate market but seedy-looking commercial areas.

MetLife will be leasing 12 floors and 410,000 square feet at the 1095 Avenue of the Americans building from Equity Office Properties Trust, Chicago, a company that is in the process of being acquired by the Blackstone Group L.P., New York.

MetLife says it will be keeping major information technology operations and many jobs at its existing Long Island City office.

MetLife first moved major operations into Long Island City in 2001.

MetLife hopes to move other operations into the Manhattan building in late 2008.

“MetLife intends to maintain a substantial ongoing presence in Queens,” the company says.

Equity Office is still in the process of redeveloping the Midtown Manhattan building.

Teams are remodeling the retail space in the lobby and the plaza outside the building, and they are adding a sky lobby on the 23rd floor, according to MetLife.