David Guthrie Phillips, 44, developed outlet retailing

July 25, 2006|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

David Guthrie Phillips, a founder of a real estate development business who had been a leader in brand-name outlet retailing, died July 18. The Owings Mills resident was 44.

The state medical examiner's office said yesterday that Mr. Phillips had ended his life. His body was recovered in the Chesapeake Bay Thursday, two days after his automobile had been found abandoned on the Bay Bridge.

Born in Norwich, Conn., and raised in Mystic, Conn., he earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Vermont and had a master's degree from the Johns Hopkins University.

Just out of college, Mr. Phillips had a painting and renovation business in Boston and rented out its loft for parties. He soon decided he wanted to go into real estate development.

"I gave him his first job in the industry. He was a just a natural," said William H. Carpenter Jr., now president of Global Merchandise in Annapolis, who employed Mr. Phillips nearly two decades ago at Prime Retail. "I could see that he clearly had sales and marketing experiencing and he would make the perfect leasing guy. It proved true. He was always creative and enthusiastic."

Mr. Phillips went into his field as a rental leasing agent for Prime Retail and rose to become executive vice president of operations and marketing and president of its European division, Athena/Prime Retail Europe. He helped develop centers in Queenstown, Hagerstown, Williamsburg, Va., and Sarasota, Fla.

"In the factory outlet center business, it's the power of the brand rather than the size of the store that makes a difference, and the brands we're targeting are going global," he told a Sun reporter in 1999.

Colleagues said that Mr. Phillips succeeded because he had an understanding of merchandizing and selling, often with name brands such as Polo, Coach and Nike.

"He was well recognized and respected by virtually all the industry," said Marshall Felenstein, president of Felenstein, Koniver & Associates in New York. "He was an excellent salesman and creative in his approaches."

Six months ago, after nearly two decades at Prime Retail, Mr. Phillips established GT Property Group LLC, a Federal Hill-based shopping center development company, with partner Nathaniel A. Tower.

"He could light up a room with an enthusiasm that people loved," Mr. Tower said yesterday. "He had a passion about him that was contagious."

Mr. Phillips chaired the outreach committee for the Urban Land Institute's Baltimore Region Executive Council, and was a member of the Urban Land Institute and the International Council of Shopping Centers.

Mr. Phillips served two terms on the board of Friends of the Family, a nonprofit organization that provides support to at-risk families.

"David was the hero of this organization," said its director, Margaret Williams. "He embodied the principles of family support."

He was a member of Green Spring Valley Hunt Club.

A memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. today at the Roman Catholic Community of St. Francis Xavier, 13717 Cuba Road in Cockeysville.

Survivors include his wife of 15 years, the former Katherine Godine, his daughter, Katherine, and son, Walker, all of Owings Mills; his parents, Nicolas and Bonnie Phillips of Old Mystic, Conn.; two brothers, Stephen Phillips of Damariscotta, Maine, and Paul Phillips of Ledyard, Conn.; a sister, Johanna Phillips Clark of Eden Prairie, Minn.; and his maternal grandmother, Verna MacLeod Payer of Groton, Conn.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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