Kofi Bonner

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Kofi S. Bonner is an American architect and planner who is known for the heading the redevelopment of the city of Emeryville, California. Mr Bonner was also Director of Economic Development and Interim City Manager for the city of Oakland, California. In 1998, Bonner was hired as Chief Administrative Officer for the Cleveland Browns Football Organization of the National Football League. In 2004, Bonner was hired by MBNA Credit Card, and then in 2006, he became director of Urban Land for the Lennar Corporation.

Early life and career[edit]

Born in Ghana, Bonner earned a Master of City Planning and a Master of Architecture from The University of California at Berkeley in 1987. Bonner then worked for the housing development company then-known as Fei Tsen and Associates in Oakland and served as a member of the San Francisco city planning group called "SPUR" for San Francisco Planning and Urban Research. In 1988, Bonner was hired to replace the out-going Steve Kaplan as Redevelopment Director for the City of Emeryville. It was there that Bonner captured local and national attention with several efforts judged "aggressive" in economic development and planning circles.

Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente was seeking land for a planned new headquarters facility in 1994. While the firm wished to remain in Oakland, finding land for Kaiser's plans proved politically and economically difficult. Observing these developments, Bonner reportedly openly courted Kaiser land development officials and eventually offered a 14-acre (57,000 m2) plot of land at 41st and San Pablo Avenue in Emeryville as the place where Kaiser could build its new home. The effort drew the ire of Oakland political officials, and a then-new-to-Oakland Jerry Brown, who famously sued Kaiser for its attempt to leave Oakland, charging the firm with racism. Eventually, Kaiser ended its plans, citing changes in the health care industry as the reason.

The Kaiser affair drew much praise and attention to Bonner, who continued to negotiate with developers to sell land and attract retailers like iKea. Bonner also successfully established a reuse plan for the former Emeryville Judson Steel plant, which is now the Bay Street Shopping Center. And while Kaiser backed away from its plans to build a Northern California headquarters in Emeryville, Bonner and the Redevelopment Agency attracted Pixar Animation Studios, which constructed its new home on the same property that was originally slated for Kaiser.

In 1998, Cleveland Browns President Carmen Policy offered the position of Chief Administrative Officer of the Cleveland Browns to Bonner, becoming the first African-American to hold such a title in the NFL. With the Browns, Bonner was responsible for the construction of the new Cleveland Browns Stadium and spearheaded the creation of the organizations website. Bonner also sat on the NFL's Internet Committee.

In 2004, Bonner was hired to a business development position with MBNA, the credit card company. Expressing a desire to return to his city planning roots, Bonner was selected as Director Of Urban Land for The Lennar Corporation in San Francisco, where he currently heads the effort to build a new stadium intended for the San Francisco 49ers.



  • "Emeryville Raids Oakland". The Montclarion. 1995. p. 2. 

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