Detroit Real-Estate Firm Bedrock Hires California Architect, Planner as New CEO


One of Detroit’s most high-profile real estate gigs is going to a noted West Coast-based architect who has experience in professional sports and brings vast experience in residential projects with him to his new role in the Motor City.

On Wednesday, Dan Gilbert’s Bedrock announced that Kofi Bonner, an architect, planner and former Cleveland Browns Chief Administrative Officer, as well as a leader behind some of California’s recent coastal developments, will become its Chief Executive Officer starting Sept. 21.

According to Bedrock officials, Bonner “has extensive experience in leading complex development projects in metropolitan areas.” He served as Co-Chief Operating Officer at Irvine, Calif.-based Five Point Holdings, where he was in charge of the entitlement and development of the San Francisco Shipyard and Candlestick Communities.

Bonner also filled those same roles for the two communities managed on behalf of Lennar Corporation: Treasure Island and the Concord Naval Weapons Station.

“I am excited to return to the Midwest and continue Bedrock’s commitment to developing world-class urban centers,” Bonner said in a Bedrock statement. “I look forward to building on the accomplishments of Mr. Gilbert and the talented team at Bedrock by advancing the transformational development program, partnering with the community to deliver positive social outcomes and working with local businesses to further the incredible momentum that Detroit and Cleveland have seen over the last decade.”

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Bonner over the past 12 months has worked in real estate development and technology ventures through his own business, Bonner Enterprises, where he focused on real estate ventures in the San Francisco area and Ghana, Bedrock said. Bonner also invested in fintech companies BC Pay and Techgulf, which sources technology operations and services to West Africa.

Football pro
His resume before he joined the private real estate sector included seven years as Executive Vice President and Chief Administrative Officer of the Cleveland Browns, where he was the first African American to hold such a title within the National Football League.

During his time with the Browns, Bonner was responsible for supervising the business operations and development of the team’s Cleveland Browns Stadium. Bedrock also said he was key “to bringing bringing forward in the league’s use of the internet in sitting on the NFL’s Internet Committee and developing the Brown’s website.”

Bonner began his career as the Affordable Housing Developer for Oakland Community Housing Inc., then continued his work as a public servant for the next decade. His work included roles as the Redevelopment Director for the City of Emeryville, Calif., Director of Community & Economic Development and later Interim City Manager for The City of Oakland, and Chief Economic Advisor to Willie Brown, then Mayor of San Francisco.

“With his extensive experience leading landmark projects on the West Coast and the years he spent in Cleveland with the Browns, Kofi Bonner is the right leader to build on Bedrock’s nearly 10 years of transformational development work,” Bill Emerson, Bedrock Vice Chairman, said in a statement. “Bedrock has a really exciting future as momentum builds at the Hudson’s Site, Book Tower and dozens of other projects, and I look forward to partnering with Kofi to ensure they have a positive and lasting impact on the communities where we serve.”

Bedrock job shifts
Emerson, currently Bedrock’s acting CEO, will continue to support the company through the transition retaining his role of Vice Chairman of Bedrock as well as Vice Chairman of Rock Holdings Inc.

Detroit-based Bedrock is a full-service real estate firm specializing in acquiring, developing, leasing, financing and managing commercial and residential buildings. Since its founding in 2011, Bedrock and its affiliates have invested and committed more than $5.6 billion to acquiring and developing more than 100 properties, including new construction of ground up developments in downtown Detroit and Cleveland totaling more than 18 million square feet.

Bedrock’s real estate portfolio consists of 210 office tenants and 125 retailers and restaurants in Detroit’s technology-centric downtown, the majority of which are new to the market. Key office tenants include Coyote Logistics, IBM, Microsoft, Quicken Loans, LinkedIn, StockX, Universal McCann, UBS, Ally Bank’s national headquarters and Fifth Third Bank’s regional headquarters. Key retail tenants include H&M, Plum Market, The Lip Bar, 6 Salon, Lululemon, Shake Shack and countless others.

Bedrock is currently developing four transformational projects including the Hudson’s Site, Monroe Blocks, Book Tower renovation and One Campus Martius expansion. Bedrock is also undergoing construction of City Modern, a community development in Detroit’s Brush Park neighborhood. Partnering with Detroit-based Shinola, Bedrock developed the world’s first Shinola Hotel on Woodward Avenue, which opened in early 2019.