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Richard R. Goldberg, Philadelphia real estate lawyer, dies at 80

Mr. Goldberg "did more than build buildings and communities. ... He built relationships that stood the test of time,” said Morton Fisher Jr., a friend and retired partner at Ballard Spahr.

Richard R. Goldberg
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Richard R. Goldberg, 80, a real estate lawyer who represented some of most notable commercial developments in the United States, died Sunday, May 9, at his Philadelphia home.

Boston’s Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Baltimore’s Harborplace, the Loews Hotel conversion in Philadelphia, and South Street Seaport in New York City are just some of the landmark developments Mr. Goldberg played a role in during his nearly five-decade career practicing real estate law.

During his 15 years as a partner with the Philadelphia law firm Ballard Spahr and three years as senior counsel, Mr. Goldberg helped build a national portfolio for the firm’s real estate department, focusing on shopping centers, hotel and mixed-use development, and complex financing arrangements.

Before joining Ballard Spahr in 1994, he served as vice president and associate general counsel of the Rouse Co., a nationally known real estate developer.

“Nobody had a broader knowledge of real estate law than Dick Goldberg,” said Michael Sklaroff, former chairman of Ballard Spahr’s real estate department. “He was an integral part of the transformation of our practice. We all learned from him.”

Mr. Goldberg was born in New York City and raised in Baltimore, the only child of Joseph and Ann Goldberg. His father was the manager of a small furniture store.

A bright student, he enrolled in Pennsylvania State University at 16 and married his high school sweetheart, Rita, shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree in political science. He later earned a law degree from the University of Maryland School of Law.

Afterward, Mr. Goldberg worked briefly with the Baltimore City Attorney’s Office before joining the Rouse Co.

While at Rouse, he played a major role in the company’s development of Columbia, Md., where he and his wife lived for more than 20 years. He also helped found Temple Isaiah, a synagogue that shared programming and an interfaith building with other religious denominations in the city.

Over the years, Mr. Goldberg left his mark on many prominent developments in the American landscape.

“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.’ He had been involved in so many prominent projects in Baltimore and elsewhere,” said Ballard Spahr chairman Mark Stewart. “It was impressive, and Dick was justifiably proud of what he had accomplished.”

He was also known to be a helpful colleague.

“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 Ballard Spahr partner and friend.

Mr. Goldberg mentored many young lawyers over the years and served as an adjunct professor at Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law.

Recognized 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, which in 2018 presented him with its Frederick Lane Award for distinguished service to the profession, the organization’s most prestigious honor.

He served as president of the Franklin Inn Club and the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia and sat on the board of the Old City District. He was a passionate Flyers fan who rarely missed a game.

Colleagues and friends say he leaves a legacy that is personal as well as professional.

“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.”

His wife and only child, Andy, died before him.

A funeral for Mr. Goldberg was held Tuesday, May 11.

Contributions in Mr. Goldberg’s memory may be made to Temple Isaiah, 12200 Scaggsville Rd., Fulton, Md. 20759.