Kalamazoo's Jamauri Bogan, former WMU running back, now running a business and scoring with Zone 32

This story is part of Southwest Michigan Second Wave's series on solutions to affordable housing and housing the unhoused. It is made possible by a coalition of funders including the City of Kalamazoo, Kalamazoo County, the ENNA Foundation, and LISC.

KALAMAZOO, MI – “I wanted to be an investment banker when I was 12,” says New Jersey-born Jamauri Bogan.
He was a Black youth enamored with the idea of money management, investing, stocks, and helping his family become financially secure as they got older, with enough money to pass some down to the next generation. That’s big thinking for an adolescent.
Former Western Michigan University football player Jamauri Bogan stands on Feb. 20, 2023 in front of the 315 E. Frank St. site on which he is developing a residential and commercial project called Zone 32.Now 26 and a resident of Kalamazoo, his interests have evolved but remain just as big. He has become a real estate developer, immersed in a world of land deals, tax credits, government funding, construction costs, building codes, loan agreements, venture capital, and income-qualified financial plans. But he’s still interested in helping people who need financial stability, particularly those in minority communities.
“Right now the focus is –– No. 1, (building) affordable housing, which is the crisis that is going on all over America,” says Bogan. “No. 2 –– it’s providing neighborhood services that are missing in our African-American community.”
He sees a big need for youth programming and locations for small businesses to grow, such as bakeries, barber shops, entertainment venues, and childcare centers. He’s working to try to make some of that a reality with the development of Zone 32, a $4.5 million residential/commercial project at 315 E. Frank St. in Kalamazoo’s Northside Neighborhood.
That’s a lot for anyone to take on.
What’s his plan?
There is surely money to be made in developing properties that rent and sell at market rates. And there are surely easier ways to earn a living. But Bogan says that’s not a part of his journey.
“Selfishly, I could go work for Stryker (Corp.) or somewhere else and probably do quite well,” says the former Western Michigan University running back. “But the avenues that I’m exploring now are avenues that traditionally People of Color don’t get access to or are not actually a part of.”
 Former Western Michigan University football player Jamauri Bogan stands on Feb. 20, 2023 in front of the 315 E. Frank St. site on which he is developing a residential and commercial project called Zone 32.“Zone 32” takes its name from the number Bogan wore in football, from age 12 through his college years. He says the sport taught him the power of “we” rather than “me.” With this effort, his first large project, he says he wants to build a neighborhood at 315 E. Frank St. that is “outward-focused and centered around serving people.”  
“I believe that by me taking this journey –– though it may be hard and though I may be up against some walls –– if I can break them down, I can do the same thing my mom did to me when I was 12,” Bogan says. “I can expose kids to what they can do, and what they can be, and build a company that hires and develops their skills.”
Bogan became hooked on business and finance at age 12 when he visited the real estate investment office where his mother worked. The occasion was “Take Your Child to Work Day.”
“He sat in on some leadership meetings,” says his mother Stephanie Bogan, who continues to work as a senior administrative assistant in the Newark, N.J., office of Prudential Global Investment Management. “He sat with the team I work for, business analysts. And then he had a chance to go to our trading floor to talk to the high-yield people and the traders on our fixed-income team.”
When he returned, she figured he would be ready to go home and play video games, like other adolescents. But she says he was intrigued about learning how money is traded, how to invest it, and about financial management.
“It really launched him to where he is today,” she says. “He’s always been a kid that when he had it in his head and made his mind up, he goes for it.”
Addressing some needs
Zone 32 is a project Bogan has been working on since he started Bogan Developments LLC in March 2020. The real estate development company is focused on creating multi-family housing for low- to moderate-income families. Zone 32 will convert 1.4 acres of vacant land on Frank Street between Pitcher and Porter streets into 14 apartment units that lease at different rates based on the occupant's income.

Jamauri Bogan says, “My heart is always around helping people and God has just used me to be a vehicle to show what can be realized. He has granted me the right people and the right resources to help foster elite community outcomes.”
He says, “It’s only right that I use what I have for the betterment of everyone.”
This is an artist’s rendering of the Zone 32 development at 315 E. Frank St.The Frank Street property will have an on-site child care center, working in partnership with the YMCA of Greater Kalamazoo. In the second phase of development, Bogan plans to grow the number of apartments substantially and build space for shops and other businesses.
“Most folks in this community here on the Northside have to go somewhere else to get what they need,” Bogan says. “My job is to bring those things back. How do we get a lawyer or an insurance person? How do we get a dentist? How do we get all of these things back into the community that were probably here prior when the makeup was a little bit different, but that have scattered since.”
The start of construction was marked with a Feb. 3 ground-breaking ceremony. Work is expected to be completed before the end of this year.
From yards to acres
Bogan decided to play football for charismatic gridiron guru P.J. Fleck because he liked Fleck’s winning vision for the Western Michigan University football program. Bogan embraced the coach’s “be elite” attitude and prospered as a running back for the Broncos, running for more than 100 yards in each of the first four games of 2016, a year the Broncos were undefeated during the regular season. But he says, “Football was a vehicle for me to get an education. That’s always been a thing for me.”
His athletic scholarship paid for five years of schooling –– which he used to earn a Bachelor's Degree in Personal Finance and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. About his football career, Bogan says he knew he could work hard enough and be smart enough to be an effective player in the Mid-American Conference. But he had no aspirations to go higher.
“I’m 5’6” and in high school, I was 147 lbs.,” he says with a laugh. “I wasn’t going to play in the NFL. You gotta be realistic with yourself.”
Real estate developer Jamauri Bogan listens on September 2022 to a lecture during Core 60, a program that helps individuals study to pass the Michigan Builders License examination.In college, he was busy with community service activities. He led a leadership class for students at Loy Norrix High School and a financial literacy class for male student-athletes there. He was a leader of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes at WMU, and he mentored elementary school children at the Tree of Life school in the Edison Neighborhood.
Despite the nearly year-round workout schedule of a Division 1 college athlete, he worked the summer between his sophomore and junior years in the marketing department of Goodwill Industries, helping that nonprofit organization to raise money. Through Goodwill, he also helped people learn to read and get their high school equivalency credential (GED).
“It was cool because I was able to use some of my influence from Bronco football and be creative to help raise money for them,” Bogan says. “Nonprofits don’t have a huge marketing department. So you have to be creative.”
Jamauri Bogan spoke to youth at Kalamazoo Public School's Breakfast of Champions.He was also learning from the connections he made with businesses. That was a networking advantage he realized “because most athletes don’t get jobs.” On campus he was also the allocations chairman of the WMU Student Association, doling out about $200,000 in funding to student organizations.
“I had my hand in quite a few things,” he says. “But it (his work) was about impact, and understanding that every position had some kind of alignment with where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.”
Making mom proud
“I think when people meet him, even though he’s 26, they’re like ’wow, who would think about things like this at 26’?” Stephanie Bogan says. “But he’s always been very driven.”
While visiting Kalamazoo in early February to attend the ground-breaking for Zone 32, Stephanie says she was pleased to hear people talk about her son’s energy and vibrant personality.
“He wakes up confident,” she says. “He wakes up with full energy to start the day. He is full of positiveness, and he inspires us. Even if he’s feeling down, he always looks at the positive.”
As an associate developer for Hollander Development Corp., Jamauri Bogan, left, joins Jason Muniz, company Vice President, answering questions during a July 21, 2022 community meeting on plans for a the new Legacy Senior Housing project.She says he helps her keep a perspective on some things and gives her feedback on issues. Those momentary reversals in their parent-child relationship sometimes cause her to laugh and remind herself, “This is the kid. I’m the mother.”
Bogan laughs when he realizes that most of his associates are now usually twice his age, a result of meeting with and learning from more seasoned professionals. He laughs again as he says he needs to make more friends his own age.

Bogan is engaged to be married next summer to his high school sweetheart, Kaylah. His older brother Juwan, 34, is a teacher who works with special needs elementary school children in Maryland. His younger brother, Justin, 24, is a business communications major at Kean University in Union, N.J.
Built for the business
Jason Muniz, vice president of Portage-based Hollander Development Corp., says Bogan is built for real estate development because he is hungry to learn, has a keen interest in the work, and is willing to surround himself with people who can further his efforts.
“Jamauri has a head start on everybody I’ve ever met--anybody that’s playing at our level, he’s got like a 15-year head start,” says Muniz, who recalls being in the U.S. Air Force when he was 26. “Most of the people I knew and still know struggle to be taken seriously any time before they’re 35. Jamauri has managed to show the world that he’s very serious.”

Muniz says it’s tough for minorities and individuals of limited means to grow in a business that requires multimillion-dollar guarantees to support some projects.
As an associate developer for Hollander Development Corp., Jamauri Bogan answered questions during a July 21, 2022 community input session on Mt. Zion Church’s planned Legacy Senior Housing project.Bogan joined Hollander Development as an associate developer in the spring of 2021, working on a part-time basis. That was after Muniz and Hollander Development President Matt Hollander began hearing his name from others in the real estate and banking communities.
“The questions he was asking just felt like the right questions from the development mentality,” Muniz says. He was asking about multi-family housing and about a few sites where he saw potential.
“This is a person cut out for this work,” Muniz says of Bogan. “It’s not for everybody, quite frankly. This is a person who is driven.”
Hollander Development is a company involved in the creation of dozens of real estate projects in Michigan, including The Creamery, a 48-unit, $14.7 million residential/commercial property that opened in March of 2021 on Portage Street. That project, just south of downtown Kalamazoo, has 15 units that are considered affordable, based on the earnings of people with low- to moderate-incomes. Muniz says Hollander has a focus on developing affordable housing, and on increasing racial equity among the ranks of those working in property development.

Eight of the first 14 apartment units at Zone 32 are expected to be available to qualified applicants at rates from 30 to 80 percent of the Area Median Income. The AMI for Kalamazoo County, through 2022, was $55,300 for an individual and $79,000 for a household of four. Thirty percent of the AMI for an individual would equate to $16,590 for an individual and $23,700 for a household of four.
Projects in the works?
Along with Zone 32, Bogan is helping Hollander Development build Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s $26 million senior housing project at 740 N. Burdick St. The $26 million project is being called Legacy Senior Housing. It will provide 70 new apartment units. Bogan is also working with Muniz and Matt Hollander to potentially start a new company focused on multi-family real estate development. It will be attuned to finding more young people like Bogan to work in development and earn equity stakes in projects.
This is an artist’s rendering of the Zone 32 development at 315 E. Frank St., looking north. The structure at the bottom of the image will house on-site child care. The two-story structure in the rear will have the majority of the 14 apartments in thBogan says the neighborhood plan drafted by Northside residents to mesh with the City of Kalamazoo’s comprehensive economic development plan, expresses the need for more affordable housing and services that benefit the community. He’s making his first large effort in the Northside Neighborhood because it’s the main African-American neighborhood in the community “and it has a rich opportunity, with it being so connected to downtown,” he says.

“If you have a vision and the parties that are in the community are willing to work with you, you can be really successful,” he says. “And you can truly change the fabric of what’s been going on.”
Building on a strong foundation
Faith is a foundation for Bogan, who grew up as a member of the Newark (N.J.) African Methodist Episcopal Church. His mother is a former missionary president for the church. Her father is head of the deacons’ board at his church, First Baptist Church of Nutley, N.J.
“My dad was a trustee (of his home church),” Bogan says. “My brother was a drummer (of the church band) and my grandmother was something else. We were at church like three or four times a week. So that was everything.”
Did he feel like a preacher’s kid?
“No, not a preacher’s kid. But that’s home base. That’s the foundation and I understand the importance of it because life gets crazy. But if you have faith, everything will be alright.”
Why does he care?
“Because that’s my journey,” says Bogan. He wants to change communities for the better.

Real estate developer Jamauri Bogan stands with a group of children he help mentor while he attended Western Michigan University.“God has equipped me with the ability to go out and create a neighborhood and bring the services and the buildings that help change the outcomes for others,” he says.

He hopes to build new environments, help more young people become educated, and through his businesses “create a curiosity in others to reach for more to do more.”

“I have the opportunity to change the outcome by, number one, building it; and  No. 2, being a living example of it.”
Why is that important?

"Being an example is important because we (Blacks) are not represented in that light. When we talk about successful African-Americans we always point to athletes and entertainers. That’s always the representation that we see. 

"I have the opportunity to show we are more than that and we can use our skills to build great businesses, to own land, and to hire People of Color and women. I have the opportunity to do all those things and it really excites me.”

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Read more articles by Al Jones.

Al Jones is a freelance writer who has worked for many years as a reporter, editor, and columnist. He is the Project Editor for On the Ground Kalamazoo.