Remembering Richard Goldberg
Richard R. Goldberg—a pioneer of the real estate bar whose work included Boston’s Faneuil Hall, Baltimore’s Harborplace, the Loews Hotel conversion in Philadelphia, and South Street Seaport in New York City—died Sunday at his home in Philadelphia, just weeks after his 80th birthday.
In his nearly five decades in the practice of real estate law, Mr. Goldberg handled deals for landmark properties, large shopping malls, and hotels across the country. He was a partner at Ballard Spahr for 15 years and Senior Counsel for three years—concentrating in shopping center, hotel and mixed-use development, complex financings for lenders and borrowers, and large scale portfolio acquisitions and dispositions, and helping to build a national platform for the firm’s Real Estate Department, now considered one of the country’s finest.
“I remember being in a car with Dick one day riding through Baltimore and he would point to one building, one landmark after another and say, ‘I did that one, I did that one, I did that one.’ He had been involved in so many prominent projects in Baltimore and elsewhere,” Ballard Spahr Chair Mark Stewart said. “It was impressive, and Dick was justifiably proud of what he had accomplished.”
Before joining the firm as a partner in 1994, he served for 23 years as Vice President and Associate General Counsel of The Rouse Company, a renowned national real estate developer. He became Senior Counsel at Ballard Spahr in 2009 and retired in 2011.
Mr. Goldberg is predeceased by his beloved wife, Rita, and their only child, Andy.
Known for his dedication to the practice and teaching of real estate law, Mr. Goldberg was a Fellow and former President of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL), which in 2018 awarded him its Frederick Lane Award for distinguished service to the profession, that organization’s most prestigious award.
Mr. Goldberg was past Chair of the Anglo-American Real Property Institute, an active member of the International Council of Shopping Centers, and a Fellow of the American College of Mortgage Attorneys, where he served as Co-Chair of the Capital Markets Committee. He was a member of the American Law Institute and the Real Estate Advisory Committees of ALI-ABA and the Practising Law Institute. He taught hundreds of CLE courses and served as an adjunct professor at Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law.
“Nobody had a broader knowledge of real estate law than Dick Goldberg,” said Michael Sklaroff, former Chair of the firm’s Real Estate Department. “He was an integral part of the transformation of our practice. We all learned from him.”
Mr. Goldberg was a mentor to thousands, including men and women who now are titans in the industry, and news of his passing spread quickly through the real estate world. Tributes were sent from all quarters. A common theme was his kindness and inclusivity, the way he never condescended and always sought to promote and encourage others.
“Dick’s passing was a great loss to the entire legal profession…he was smart, practical, helpful and encouraging to a young lawyer who had just begun his career.”
“A true giant in the shopping center law world, and one who genuinely cared about the integrity and success of the industry.”
“A man who filled every room he entered with his presence, be it his intellect, his kindness, or just his personality.”
“We have lost one of the great icons of the real estate world.”
“Dick was a mensch: not only a great lawyer but a true friend who was generous with his time and knowledge,” said David Pollack, a Retired Partner at Ballard Spahr and a longtime friend. “He was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. He understood complex problems instantly and had numerous ways of solving them.”
Mr. Goldberg was born in New York and moved to Baltimore as a child. His father managed a small furniture store. He enrolled in Penn State University at the age of only 16 and married his college sweetheart, Rita, shortly after graduation. After graduating from the University of Maryland School of Law, he worked briefly for the Baltimore City Attorney’s Office before joining the Rouse Company, where he played a major role in groundbreaking developments, including Columbia, Maryland, where he and Rita lived for more than 20 years.
Columbia was created on the premise that a well-conceived city could transcend economics and engineering. It could contribute to racial, religious, and class equality. There were to be no freestanding religious institutions. In addition to being a legal force behind Columbia, Mr. Goldberg helped to found Temple Isaiah, a synagogue that—by design—shared programming and an interfaith building with other religious denominations in the city.
Mr. Goldberg served as President of the synagogue during those early years and, under his leadership, it hired its first employee and launched a capital fund that paved the way for the purchase of land and construction of a new building in 2005.
“Dick was a wise and giving person, a quintessential volunteer, a treasured member of the congregation,” said Rabbi Craig Axler of Temple Isaiah. “He was steadfast in his commitment through the years, even after he moved to Philadelphia. He brought so much insight and knowledge. He helped us in ways large and small.”
His interests and civic leadership also extended to arts and culture. He served as President of both the Franklin Inn Club and The Center of Art in Wood in Philadelphia, and was a board member of the Old City District. He was a passionate Flyers fan who held season tickets for 15 years and rarely missed a game.
“Dick did more than build buildings and communities, although he did that very well. He built relationships that stood the test of time,” said Morton Fisher, Jr., a friend and Retired Partner at Ballard Spahr. “He cared about people, and he cared about making the world a better place. He was just a good, fine person.”
Funeral services will be held virtually on Tuesday, May 11, at 12:30 p.m. ET. More information can be found on the Sol Levinson site here. Services will be live-streamed. Contributions in his memory may be sent to Temple Isaiah, 12200 Scaggsville Road, Fulton, MD, 20759.
The family will be in mourning at 5516 Adams Ridge Road, Clarksville, MD, 21029. At the family's request, please attend Shiva only if you have been fully vaccinated. Shiva will be held Tuesday and Wednesday at 5:00 p.m. ET, with service at 7:00 p.m. ET.