A LAW PARTNER IN ONE OF THE STATE’S MOST PRESTIGIOUS FIRMS, RICK BRODSKY GAINED A UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE ON LAND USE AND DEVELOPMENT THROUGH PUBLIC SERVICE
BY LAURA D. C. KOLNOSKI • PHOTOS BY ERIC COLEMAN
A familiar scenario plays out regularly in over 500 New Jersey municipal buildings: local officials on one side of the desk representing planning and zoning interests, and attorneys on the other side advocating for their clients applicants seeking approvals for new projects. Turning the tables in Middletown Township was Rick Brodsky, a three term member of the local Township Committee and former mayor, whose professional career is partner with the law firm of Ansell, Grimm, and Aaron PC, specializing in commercial and residential real estate, zoning, and land use.
Brodsky, a Brooklyn native who graduated Wesleyan University with a Bachelor of Arts in 1984, obtained his law degree from Brooklyn Law School in 1988. In between, he and his buddies traveled abroad for six months, during which he made the decision to enter law school. That proved a fortuitous choice since he met his wife Hope, who hailed from Rumson, there.
“We lived and worked in Manhattan after law school, and when we started to think about having kids, we moved to Middletown in Monmouth County because we wanted to raise them in the suburbs with all that offers,” explained Brodsky. “I didn’t know much about New Jersey, so I got involved and volunteered to get to know the state and my community.”
When Brodsky and others began to recognize he had certain skills for the job, “One thing led to another.” Between serving as deputy mayor in 1997 and 1999, he became mayor in 1998. At the time, he was the youngest sitting mayor in New Jersey. (In Middletown Township’s form of government, residents elect candidates to the Township Committee for three years Committeepersons take turns being mayor for one year terms.) In all, Brodsky was elected to the Township Committee for three three year terms.
“Middletown is a very diverse town, with residents from Jon Bon Jovi living on the Navesink River to the residents of the Bayshore on the Raritan Bay, and everything in between,” he said. “Lots of people have different perspectives and outlooks. I was re-elected because people felt like I listened. I instituted ‘Mayor’s Office Hours’ one night per week with or without an appointment on any issue, one of the accomplishments I’m most proud of. I certainly learned a lot and gained a better understanding of the residents’ perspectives.”
The most gratifying part of his public service, he said, was, “meeting with and talking to people, and understanding their concerns. I had a reputation for being approachable. The reality is that most people often feel local issues are just as, if not more important than national issues.”
After five years sitting on the Planning Board as the official representative of the Township Committee, “I saw things from the municipal perspective that helped me in my career with applicants going before these bodies,” he said. Brodsky joined Ansell, Grimm, and Aaron PC as a partner in 1999, the same year he served as mayor. The family owned legacy firm, operating for some 90 years, has offices in Ocean, Princeton, Woodland Park, Newtown, Pennsylvania, and White Plains, New York.
Brodsky’s practice is concentrated in the areas of land use and development, real estate transactions and financing, real estate tax appeals, and real estate litigation. He represents and counsels clients in all phases of real estate acquisitions, financing, and development, and appears on land use matters before municipal and county planning boards and state agencies. He said he always had an interest in real estate, and his wife and her family are also involved in various aspects of real estate.
“We provide the elements of a small firm with the broad reach and work of larger firms, and we can work on matters of all sizes,” Brodsky said of Ansell, Grimm, & Aaron PC, adding, “Development in New Jersey is always challenging because it’s a highly dense state. The most exciting, challenging, and rewarding projects I’ve worked on are redevelopments of existing properties through adaptive reuse.”
Among those he’s particularly proud of are located in Red Bank the West Side Lofts residential/commercial complex, popular restaurants Pazzo MMX and 26 West on the Navesink, the Le Malt Cigar Club, a former Broad Street church converted into an office building, and the Anderson Building, a former moving company structure built in 1909 on a high profile corner near the Red Bank Train Station. Vacant for decades, it recently reopened as a completely renovated Sickles Market and office space to rave reviews. In nearby Shrewsbury, he was involved in the development of the Grove and Grove West shopping/dining destinations along Route 35.
Not much time to reflect on those days, however, as Brodsky’s attention is on new projects he described with enthusiasm. They include the former Red restaurant near the corner of Broad and Front Streets in Red Bank, slated to become a sports bar with rooftop dining, and a vacant furniture store on the same block being turned into an “Eataly style concept” on the first floor with upstairs office space.
A short ride down the coast, where he was a key factor in transforming the former Quay restaurant in Sea Bright into a new catering hall with upstairs apartments between the Shrewsbury River and the Atlantic Ocean, he’s working on the expanding River walk Hotel and Tiki Bar. That venue is transforming into an all new four building hotel with an updated riverfront Tiki Bar.
Brodsky recently joined the board of trustees of Red Bank’s Lunch Break, the acclaimed food pantry and community support organization that has grown rapidly over the past 37 years. It will be expanding its headquarters again, doubling in size with donated property. Brodsky previously served on the board of Red Bank’s Community YMCA and performs charitable work with the Count Basie Center for the Arts.
Having played small forward on the Wesleyan Varsity Basketball team, he reflects fondly on his years coaching baseball and basketball when his now adult sons, Jake and Sam, were young. Both Middletown South High School graduates, they currently live and work in Manhattan in finance and real estate.
Brodsky and his wife currently reside in the Lincroft section of Middletown, maintaining their ties to the local community that began over 30 years ago.
“My passion is family and strong involvement in family and the community,” said Brodsky, who has been honored as a New Jersey Super Lawyer. Co chairman of both his firm’s Zoning and Land Use and Real Estate Tax Appeals Departments, he is also a former assistant corporation counsel in the Real Estate Litigation Division of the New York City Law Department.
ANSELL, GRIMM & AARON PC
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