Donald Phillips, managing director of Phillips Development & Realty, LLC (PDR), has been in the real estate industry since the early age of 19. As one who considers family a huge driving force in his life, it is only fitting that Phillips began his career conducting his first real estate transaction with none other than his mother. With the property he purchased, costing only $18,000, he made a 40 percent return in just seven months.
This initial achievement – along with the inspiration he obtained while observing his father’s successes in the business so many years prior – confirmed for Phillips his desire to work in real estate and development also. Following in the footsteps of his father, who died in an airplane crash when Phillips was 14, he entered into the business in 1986 and received his North Carolina broker’s license two years later. In 1991, he joined Hock Development, Inc. where he structured development programs for medical office buildings throughout the Southeast. The company’s position in the marketplace increased remarkably with his leadership.
It was at Hock Development, Inc., under the tutelage of his mentor and the principal, Gary Hock, that he learned the inner workings of corporate real estate structure. Following his departure from Hock Development, Inc. in 1994, his first transaction was the Triangle SportsPlex, an 82,000 square foot facility combining an Olympic-size aquatic center, hockey rink and public concession area. The transaction, which occurred in North Carolina, was an IRS 63-20 bond (a nonprofit, single purpose entity issuing a non-rated, tax exempt bond through private placement) offering for $10.6 million.
Phillips began his move from operator to operation with the formation of PDR in 1999. He formally organized PDR as an entity which focused exclusively on the multi-family rental business. While he remains committed to this centralized multi-family niche, his broad real estate portfolio spans work in office, institutional, recreational, and industrial applications.
Phillips has been the driving force behind the upscale residential and mixed-use developments of PDR. Most recently, he has been recognized for work done with the Phillips University Center in Charlotte, N.C., Phillips International in Tampa, Fla., Phillips at McKinney Ranch in Texas and the one-million-square foot mixed-use project in Houston known as Mosaic.
In 2003, Phillips relocated the PDR headquarters from Raleigh to Tampa, Fla. Since then, he has continued to build a legacy representing quality and integrity in the industry, and his work has captured the attention of leaders throughout the state. To date, Phillips has received three gubernatorial appointments and serves on multiple influential legislative policy committees. He was appointed twice by Governor Crist to the Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority (THEA) board, most recently as Vice Chair. His experience and familiarity with the surrounding communities made him the best choice for the $40-million-a-year THEA, which owns and operates the Selmon Crosstown Expressway.
Additionally, Phillips was appointed board member to Enterprise Florida (e-Florida) by Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Larry Cretul. In June 2009, he was reappointed to the board by Governor Crist and asked to serve on the Legislative Policy Commission, a liaison group which collaborates with the state legislature and cabinets to review and promote initiatives fostering both competitiveness and effectiveness. He works closely with this board in the continued pursuit of international trade, visiting regularly with his counterparts in Costa Rica and Panama, among others, to source and promote opportunities for the small businesses of the State of Florida.
Most recently, he was appointed one of five board members for the Transportation and Expressway Authority Membership of Florida (TEAMFL), an association representing the five expressway authorities of Florida. At this post, he continued to share innovative ideas for toll road operations, including acquisition, financing, and marketing.
With more than 25 years of industry experience, Phillips has developed over 5,000 multi-family residential units, office/retail spaces, medical and municipal facilities – totaling more than $700 million. Today, he remains committed to selecting promising locations and projects in the best interests of communities, investors, and the environment. Phillips leads the industry with new business practices and environmentally-conscious initiatives which are models for the real estate industry.
Personally, he is an avid sportsman, conservationist, adventurer, and traveler, combining his appreciation for the scenic wonders of South America, Africa, and Europe with his passion for angling, wing shooting, and big game hunting. Phillips’ enjoyment of aviation started as a boy, flying frequently with his father, and continues today as he shares this joy with his family in their beautifully restored 1978 Cessna 414A. His beloved family consists of his children Brenden, Collin, Cooper, Kodee, and Cole.