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Commercial Real Estate New Jersey Rensselaer Commercial Properties

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Robin Pio Costa-Lahue and her husband Michael P. Lahue have been involved in the commercial real estate business for more than 30 years.  They formed their current company, "Rensselaer Commercial Properties", in 1985 and moved their offices to Pine Brook, NJ in 1990.  Rensselaer evolved from Robin's lifelong involvement in her family's commercial real estate business.  Currently, they develop and managed properties in Essex, Morris and Warren counties.  Their current premium property is 2 Changebridge Rd. in Montville Township, NJ.  Rensselaer purchased the property in 1989.  In 1997 they renovated the old Thermal Quartz building and recently constructed a new premium office and professional building on the site.  Rensselaer certainly enhanced a very busy and visible corner with a beautiful building.  Rensselaer's commitment, expertise and knowledge of commercial real estate is second to none, however they are equally committed to the communities in which they operate.  Robin and Michael have been very active and generous to the Rotary Club of Fairfield, NJ and Rotary International, Boy Scouts of America, Kent Place School, Frost Valley YMCA and the Chamber of Commerce.  In addition their family has provided generous support to the Township of Fairfield, the Anthony Pio Costa Memorial Library and to the Montville Township Library.  They were honored by the Montville Chamber of Commerce as 2003 Business of the Year for the development of 2 Changebridge Rd.

In Memorium: Anthony Pio Costa II

One of the pioneer Industrial developers in West Essex, NJ, Mr. Pio Costa also played a role in the development of Morris County, NJ.  He had been involved in the field for about 35 years.  During World War II, Mr. Pio Costa served in the Army Corps of Engineers.  He was active in a number of community organizations including the Caldwell-West Essex Kiwanis Club, the James Caldwell Post No. 185 of the American Legion and West Essex Unico.


Crecco Foundation - Man Of The Year Award 1972

Anthony Pio Costa II with his daughter Robin Pio Costa-Lahue.

APC Crecco Award Medium

Memorial Award - United States Amateur Athletic Union Dinner


My grandfather, Antonio Pio Costa, was from Sant'Arsenio, Province of Salerno, Italy.  He came to the United States in the early 1900's, before 1910, looking for work as all the immigrants did.  He returned to Italy to find a wife.  My grandmother, Antonia Francesca Grecco, came from a very wealthy landowning family in San Rufo, a small town near Sant'Arsenio.  The Grecco family estate encompassed much of the town property including farms and businesses.  Antonia was a very young girl when she married Antonio.  The couple then moved to the United States and settled with other relatives in Orange, NJ.  Antonia was a homemaker.

My father, Anthony Pio Costa II, was born in 1914.  He had one brother and four sisters.  He began working at the age of 6 selling newspapers, pots and pans and other items in the streets of Orange, NJ.  When he was older he sold cigars.   He was educated through the Orange school system and went on to start school at NYU in New York City.  When he was 21 his father became ill and passed away.  My father and his older sister Theresa then had to take over as heads of the family and share responsibilities, as their mother did not speak English and had no formal education.  Later Anthony and his brother served in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II while Theresa continued to keep the family united.

Theresa put herself through school and had a teacher's education degree.  My father and Theresa helped further their three sisters' education allowing them to receive their degrees.  Theresa married a large contractor out of NYC and purveyed upon him to give her brother a start, which he did.   Anthony acquired some construction equipment and opened the Orange Contracting Company based at their home in Orange.  By now Theresa's husband, Bill, helped Anthony get jobs.  Many of these were paving and excavating jobs in NYC.  Gradually he became very successful at what he was doing.  He continued schooling and entered law school at NYU.  He was interested in being a real-estate lawyer.  As a result of the time constraints associated with supporting his entire family and working around the clock he had to quit law school.  Despite his desire to complete his degree, a professor told him he was burning out and, recognizing his talents in construction, guided him to focus in that direction.

He did paving work and other jobs across the West Essex area (Essex County, NJ).  After returning from service he married a woman from Caldwell (NJ), Rosalind Petrulio.  At this time he was being contracted in NYC to remove granite cobblestones and haul them out to NJ.  Initially, he deposited the stones in the parking lot behind his mother-in-law's apartment building in Caldwell.  Upon realizing what the "Belgian Blocks" were worth, he began advertising the sale of them to local contractors and builders.  Later, he hauled them to property he purchased in West Caldwell and eventually to another parcel in Fairfield. He was so successful as one of the sole providers of these blocks that he became known as the "NJ Belgian Block King".

After his marriage, he moved to Caldwell and shortly after decided to buy property in Essex Fells to build his home.  In 1950, he moved into the home he built.  With the savings and income from his contracting business he began to invest in land.  He developed and subdivided the property at 245 Fairfield Avenue in West Caldwell (NJ) selling the first of several lots to the Johnson Scale Company.  Today the property is a very successful industrial complex.  Anthony was a pioneer in developing similar complexes in the Fairfield area.  He then took his energies to a property at 1275 Bloomfield Avenue where he originally wanted to put up a shopping center.  Ironically, shopping centers did not even exist at the time.  Since his thoughts were ahead of his time, he decided to try for light industrial buildings that the town did approve.

He continued to invest his funds in other areas of NJ such as Morris County, the Township of Montville, Mt Arlington and Roxbury, and later in Riverdale and Warren County in the Hackettstown area.  In Fairfield he catered to the small "mom and pop" business owners in the area who found the location very convenient and many of them opened their first businesses in the industrial park.   As it became better known larger companies came in, but still today the tenancy remains loyal to the original concept.  Anthony was also active within the community with charitable interest groups such as the Caldwell-West Essex Kiwanis Club, James Caldwell Post No. 185 of the American Legion and West Essex Unico.  In his efforts he was awarded many times for his contributions.

His goals were to teach his children and to provide for future generations of his family.  He passed away before his time at the age of 60 leaving his legacy, reaching many of his goals and becoming a household name as "Mr. West Essex".

Rosalind Pio Costa

Alfredo Petrulio came to Caldwell, NJ from Italy in the late 19th century.  His family had established itself in the Caldwell area, and as a young man he worked together with his brother at a barbershop in Verona, NJ.  Later he studied dentistry at Valparaiso University in Indiana.  His education was interrupted when he was inducted into the US Army during WWI.  It was during that time that he met and married Violetta Cercone, from Schnectady, NY.

Alfredo and Violetta moved back to Caldwell, prospering in business and real estate.  They built a retail and apartment building at 2 Gould Place on the corner of Bloomfield Ave. in Caldwell, which is still owned by the family today.

The family traveled back and forth to Italy due to Alfredo's failing health. As a result, their child Rosalind received the culture and education of both countries.

Rosalind attended Reggio Ginnasio School in Avellino, Italy.  Returning to the U.S. after her father's death, she was promoted two years in school and graduated from Grover Cleveland High School at age 16.  Her father's dying wish was that both of his daughters attend college.  Her mother honored that wish under great financial duress.  Rosalind graduated from Upsala College in East Orange with a bachelor of arts in English and education in 1940, at the age of 20.  She was a substitute teacher at Caldwell High School, teaching English and French.  Her sister Violet graduated from The Laboratory Institute of Merchandising in NYC.

Later, Rosalind opened her own ready-to-wear shop called "Chez Mam'selle" on Bloomfield Ave. in Caldwell.  She married Anthony Pio Costa II in 1947 and shortly thereafter, closed her shop to raise her children, Anthony and Robin.  Rosalind and her husband began to build a commercial real estate business, acquiring properties in the West Essex area of NJ, later expanding to several surrounding counties. Together, they successfully bought, built and managed their real estate.

Since her husband's death in 1974, Rosalind continued her involvement in the family business as she does today.  She belongs to several charitable organizations including the Junior Auxiliary of Columbus Hospital, The National Organization of Italian-American Women, The Statue of Liberty Ellis-Island Foundation and New Jersey Professional Women.  She was a major contributor to the Anthony Pio Costa Memorial Library in Fairfield and the Montville Library Auditorium wing.  In 2004, Rosalind received The Lifetime Achievement Award for Business from The Center for Italian-American Culture.


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