Thomas Chatmon, executive director of Orlando’s Downtown Development Board/Community Redevelopment Agency, passed away Saturday, July 23, at the age of 68. He was widely known for the role he played in bringing new developments like the Amway Center, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Creative Village, Chase Plaza and 55 West to the downtown corridor.
by Frank Butler, OrlandoAdvocate.com
“He was a true gentleman and an all around nice guy,” said Rev. Kevin Seraaj, local pastor and publisher of the Orlando Advocate. “His even-tempered personality, calming presence and his tremendous work ethic all worked to make him truly effective in his position.”
Chatman had waged a long battle with cancer before finally succumbing to the illness.
Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer posted a tweet about Chatmon’s passing.
Our city has lost one of its greatest champions. After a long battle with cancer, Thomas Chatmon passed away this weekend. He served as executive director of the City's Downtown Development Board and impacted so many through his enthusiasm and positivity. Thomas will be missed. pic.twitter.com/tIp6bEUhnF— Mayor Buddy Dyer (@orlandomayor) July 24, 2023
Chatman came to Orlando after a stint as CEO of Albany Tomorrow, a nonprofit that focused on the development and maintenance of Chatmon’s native Albany. According to the Albany Herald, “when Albany officials decided to make a dramatic push to revitalize the city’s ghost town of a downtown through the private-public arm dubbed Albany Tomorrow Inc., Chatmon was named the group’s first executive director. He helped spearhead a redevelopment plan that included construction of the Hilton Garden Inn hotel, parking garages for downtown workers, the Flint RiverQuarium attraction, and the Dougherty County School Board’s administration building.”
Chatmon left Albany for Orlando in 2007 after being named executive director of the Florida city’s Downtown Development Board. He also served as a member of the board of directors for the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida, which commented on his passing with high praise for his work– and his commitment.
“We lost a great warrior for social justice this weekend. Thomas C. Chatmon Jr., executive director of the Downtown Development Board for the City of Orlando – Government, was a champion for the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida — and for our most vulnerable neighbors. He served with grace, dignity and an impeccable moral compass. We will miss him dearly. #RestInPower.”
Homeless Services Network CEO Martha Are issued a statement saying that “Thomas was always a calming presence and strategic thinker, and he challenged us all to do better,” Are said. “He valued and nurtured relationships, including ours, and he served as a mentor not only to me but to so many others. More than anything, he was passionate about homelessness and about our organization, and he was a man of tremendous integrity. We will miss him dearly.”
A memorial for Chatmon is set for 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 17 at First Presbyterian Church of Orlando, located at 106 E. Church Street, downtown.