Thaddeus Cohen

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Thaddeus Cohen
Occupation Director, Community Redevelopment Agency
Director, Community Development Department
City of Pensacola

Thaddeus L. Cohen is the current director of the City of Pensacola's Community Development Department and Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), which combined offices in (date needed). He was hired to the post by Tom Bonfield in December 2007 after the departure of Kevin Cowper and began work in January 2008. [1] Following the early retirement of assistant City Manager Robert Paynein March 2009, Cohen also began overseeing housing and the Saenger Theatre.[2]

Cohen receives a salary of $105,000 with $14,078 annually for full family health benefits.[3]


Cohen was born in California and raised in New Jersey, and attended college at Kent State University in Ohio, graduating with a B.A. in Architecture.

Cohen is a registered architect in Florida, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New Jersey. He owned an architectural firm in Delray Beach for 20 years and has private and local government experience in urban planning and growth management.

Before coming to Pensacola, Cohen was secretary of the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA) under Governor Jeb Bush from 2004 to 2007. During his tenure, he assisted in the Pensacola-area recovery efforts following Hurricane Ivan and presented a check of $7.9 million to the City of Pensacola for infrastructure repairs. "Out of tragedy can come a better future for this area," he said. "We will be with you every step of the way."[4]

Downtown events[edit]

Cohen stated in an interview that when he was first moved to Pensacola, he was staying near Plaza de Luna and was surprised by the lack of people at the new park. "I look around and there's five folks." Soon after taking the position, Cohen recommended setting aside a budget for downtown entertainment events, starting with $50,000 in CRA funds.[5] This led to the creation of several new initiatives, including:


In May 2008, the Downtown Improvement Board marked Military Appreciation Month by selling $100 commemorative plates with the names of veterans, which were placed on street lamp poles in the downtown area. The plates were deemed "unauthorized signage" by the City of Pensacola Public Works Department and removed. DIB executive director Kim Kimbrough claimed that Cohen had given approval for the signs, despite not having the authority to do so, which Cohen chalked up to a "communications gap. … I indicated that it would be a good idea. I think in the course of saying, 'That's a good idea,' that may have been translated to, 'Go do it.'"[6]

In 2009, Cohen contested the "vending machine" classification granted to the large ice houses established by Downing Gray's Blue Angel Ice Company. Noting the large size, water lines and mechanical aspects of the ice houses, Cohen argued they should be classified as "ice-making machines."[7]

In August 2009, after the announcement that military technology firm Avalex would move from downtown Pensacola to Gulf Breeze to build a new headquarters with AppRiver, advertising executive Dick Appleyard wrote an email critical of Cohen to several friends and city officials. With the subject line "NOW I'M MAD," the email blamed Cohen for the Avalex exodus and cited problems working with Sacred Heart Health System on tree ordinance issues related to their campus expansion. "I've heard other businesses have been treated as inferior citizens and some economic development leaders say he is a MAJOR problem if not THE major problem in our City." Appleyard also claimed the volunteer organizers of Evenings in Olde Seville had complained of Cohen's hostility towards them.[8]

Avalex CEO Tad Ihns denied that Cohen was solely responsible for his decision to move from Pensacola. Nevertheless, Mayor Mike Wiggins (a friend of Appleyard's) said the city had decided to make City Manager Al Coby the "point person" for business people discussing economic development issues involving the city.[9]

Community & professional involvement[edit]

  • Baptist Health Care's Campus Redevelopment Council[10]
  • Past chairman, Council for Black Economic Development of Broward County
  • Past chairman, Commission on Affordable Housing for Palm Beach County
  • Former board member, Broward Alliance
  • Former board member, 1000 Friends of Florida
  • American Institute of Architects (AIA)


  1. "Pensacola hires new community director." Pensacola News Journal, December 22, 2007.
  2. "Coby, others take up slack." Pensacola News Journal, March 7, 2009.
  3. "Your money, their perks." Pensacola News Journal, March 15, 2009.
  4. "Big ideas for FEMA." Pensacola News Journal, February 1, 2005.
  5. "City leader shares vision for downtown." Pensacola News Journal, May 19, 2008.
  6. "Fingers pointing in to-do over plaques." Pensacola News Journal, July 2, 2008.
  7. "Ice Houses get frosty reception." Pensacola News Journal, July 13, 2009.
  8. "Prominent businessmen upset with Cohen." Progressive Pensacola, August 20, 2009.
  9. "Ad exec's e-mail rails at city official." Pensacola News Journal, August 21, 2009.
  10. "New council to oversee development of hospital." Pensacola News Journal, August 8, 2008.