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Kofi Bonner | Bonner With Lennar in SF Bay Area | 49ers Stadium Issue

Kofi Bonner | Bonner With Lennar in SF Bay Area | 49ers Stadium Issue

After a stellar career as an executive in the National Football League and with a credit card company, my friend Kofi Bonner is back in the San Francisco Bay Area as Director Of Urban Land for Lennar Corporation. Here's some background on the person who was once Interim City Manager for Oakland from the SF Business TImes.

Kofi Bonner is back.

Lennar Corp. has hired the former Bay Area planning and political whiz to help in its Hunters Point and Treasure Island developments and search for fresh Bay Area opportunities from San Jose to Sacramento.

"It's wonderful to see the old faces. Many have moved onward and upward and are as cantankerous and loving as ever," said Bonner. "It's great to be back."

Known for his aggressive role in redeveloping Emeryville during the 1980s, Bonner also served as the head of economic development and interim City Manger in Oakland before becoming an economic adviser to San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown.

In 1998, Bonner moved to Ohio to head business development for the Cleveland Browns, and last year accepted a director role at MBNA before the $10.3 billion Lennar lured him back to the Bay Area to take the newly created post of executive vice president.

"We're pleased to welcome Kofi back to San Francisco to join our team. He is an important addition in Lennar's current and future development plans in the Bay Area," said Tom Sheaff, regional vice president of Lennar Communities' Bay Area division, in an email.

Bonner will serve as lead negotiator in the Hunters Point redevelopment -- a multi-million dollar project that Lennar as been working toward since 1999. The first phase is beginning, with demolition of buildings slated for later this month followed by six months of grading and paving. The first 1,600 housing units are expected to be available in 2008.

Bonner will also serve as Lennar's chief negotiator for its Treasure Island development -- a $1 billion project it is partnering on with Kenwood Investments.

Although Lennar won the exclusive right to negotiate on Treasure Island with San Francisco several years ago, a final deal has yet to be signed. The city is still negotiating with the U.S. Navy to take possession of the island -- a not-so-minor detail that must be resolved before Lennar can strike an arrangement with the city.

Bonner said he is spending time both getting up to speed on these projects and re-connecting with old friends and colleagues, including former Mayor Willie Brown, Oakland developer Phil Tagami, architect Jeffrey Heller and TMG's Michael Covarrubias.

He's also been touring the Bay Area, admiring the changes that have transpired since he left.

"There has been a lot of development," he said, noting Emeryville, Mission Bay and the BART line to SFO have most impressed him. "It's great to see how the area has evolved."

Lizette Wilson covers real estate for the San Francisco Business Times.
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