Always Improving So You Love Where You Live!

McKenzie Apartment Company is committed to keeping our communities in great condition so that our residents will be comfortable and proud to love where they live. Every year we have a sizable reinvestment to back up this philosophy. Some years are more than others but we are always looking to see what needs attention. Always there is general upkeep and sometimes we add new features. I think it might be interesting for you to see what we are doing in 2017.

At Blackhawk Trails, we’ve made major improvements to our outdoor community and pool areas, which include our newly installed pool gates, additional patio space near the pool, a beautiful wood pergola, and an updated outdoor seating area with a flat screen TV and a gas grill. We’ve also added additional recycling pick-up for each of the buildings and lots of new and updated equipment to our fitness center. Many of our units have also received updated appliances, updated flooring, and new LED lighting options in order to keep our property looking modern and inviting. Blackhawk Trails is also continuing to update the carpet in the common areas of buildings and paint the buildings’ exterior doors and railings.

At Legacy, we’re doing many updates to our outdoor community areas and landscaping. We are planning to pave  the gravel path around the pond and add benches to the area, as well. An additional grilling station will also be built near the pond, between buildings 3 and 7. Our Bark Park is currently in the mid-stages of completion with the new gate currently up and exciting dog agility structures on the way. We’re also working to add more dog stations to make cleaning up after your pet even easier. We’ve added additional weekly trash pick-ups this summer and have finished up the pavement improvements now that the construction is finished on the property.  Finally, our favorite is the new flat screen TV we’ve added to our outdoor grilling area next to the pool.

At Boulder Creek, we’re doing lots of improvements to our outdoor spaces and updating the units’ interiors. We are working on getting new decks for all of the units, new post lighting, and are hoping to do a landscaping renovation.  We are also getting all new carpet in the hallways, and are getting all new cabinets and countertops in units based on need.  Boulder Creek has also updated their outdoor community area with a brand new flat screen TV at the pool and new community seating and grilling space.

At our Waterside location, we’ve updated many of the outdoor community areas and landscaping. Waterside has installed multiple grilling areas across the property, including a pergola, and will soon have a new gas grilling station next to the pool.  We’ve also updated all of the outdoor post lights and have improved the lighting in our garages to be LED lights. All decks and exterior railings are also being painted.

Amongst all of these things, each property is making continuous repairs to our concrete, blacktop, pools, and landscaping in order to ensure our properties are maintained to our high quality standard. If you see something that needs attention, always feel free to notify your property manager. 


A Word From Our Owner, John McKenzie…


I have been thinking for some time that it might be interesting for me, as an owner of McKenzie Apartment Company,  to let you know more about us as a company, and give you some background about the apartment business. Some topics I have in mind include trends in the industry, where your rent dollar goes, why costs go up, new projects, and maybe what is involved in developing a project. I also want to know what you want to know, so if you are interested in anything in particular please just email me or let your manager know your idea and they can pass it on to me. For this first blog, I want to tell you a little bit about our company, how we got here, and why we think we are different.

My father Richard got into real estate in the 1950’s. He had a law degree from the University of Wisconsin but made almost nothing in his first year out of school. Since he had a baby at home (me) he started working as an insurance claims adjuster. That didn’t pay particularly well either, but he learned a lot about what was happening in the city and different businesses while he was adjusting claims. That opened his eyes to real estate.  The first deal he got involved with was to buy two vacant lots with a friend from the insurance agency. They used one of the lots as a down payment on a little office building, which they expanded and rented to his employer, Mutual Service Insurance company. Later he developed 5 small office buildings in Hilldale while still working as a claims adjuster. That is also where I got started in real estate. My job was to pick up gum and cigarette butts for 25 cents an hour, and later I thankfully graduated to lawn mowing for $3 per lawn. The first foray into residential real estate for Richard was to buy the 34 unit Whispering Hills townhouses in the 1970’s. This was the beginning of the McKenzie Apartment Company.

Since that time much has happened,  but we have remained very much a family business. I got involved in 1990 after returning from California. Within a couple of years Richard, my brother Tim, and I developed the 128 unit Highland Ridge Apartments in Middleton, and the Blackhawk subdivision in Madison that included 514 apartments, 58 condominiums, and 479 homesites. Since then, Tim and I have done projects separately. Both companies have had an impact on the West Side of Madison and Verona. Although technically we compete, we operate with mutual respect and a similar mission.

Just as I was inspired by my father’s success in real estate, my children have shown that they want to carry on the legacy. My son, Jack, has been working with me for 6 years, initially in property management and now in construction of new properties. My daughter, Taylor, is in Denver working for another real estate firm so she is not a part of the McKenzie Apartment Company now, but since these properties will stay in the family she will be involved in our future. In addition, my wife Jo Ellen has been involved in our architecture and design decisions. She integrates with the architecture on new projects and directs renovations and upgrades of existing properties.

I am convinced that this family perspective makes us different. My father stressed to me that it is important to fix up properties so that you are proud of them and to show those that rent from you that you are earning their trust. I believe in that and I stress that to my kids who will be the eventual owners of the properties. I believe that you must regularly reinvest in a property for it to stand out. My kids have bought into the commitment that we will never sell and therefore it makes sense to stay ahead of repairs and maintenance. Our reputation is our life’s blood and we only earn a good one by taking care of our properties and treating people with the respect they deserve.

We have built a business that makes me proud and we are continuing to add new and exciting properties to the portfolio. I must say that the buildings are nothing without the people to operate them and provide the great service that must compliment the bricks and mortar. I think that our staff of property managers and all of the service people they oversee are the best in the business. They are our family too. I believe that is a big point of difference for our company. I respect and trust our staff and I feel it goes both ways. I am extremely proud of all of them.

We all believe in the same mission of service and quality. Together we are determined to be the best we can be.

Although we feel we are offering a great product we are always aware that we are not the ones that pass the final verdict. We will not survive in this business without earning the trust of our residents. That is why we want feedback. Our managers are there to help make your experience of living in our communities the best it can be. Let us know what we can do to best meet your needs. We are doing more community events like Taco Tuesdays, pizza nights, Badger and Packer parties, and of course the big the summer party. Please come and give us your feedback. We want you to enjoy your home, tell your friends about us, and most importantly be happy that you made the choice to live in one of our McKenzie Apartment Company communities.


Decor For Your Door

3 simple DIY projects to spice up your apartment door this holiday season!

Ready or not, here it comes! The holiday season is in full force! Along with warm clothes, cookies and hot cocoa, comes the holiday decorations! Many of you may have already started decorating, but do not limit your decorations. Spread your holiday cheer outside of your apartment by decorating your door this year.

1. The no-so-traditional “wreath”

Don’t get me wrong, the typical wreath is absolutely beautiful this time of year, but if you’re looking for a more “out of the box” look, this wreath is inexpensive and easy to make! All you need is a frame, spray paint, ribbon and ornaments. All of these supplies can be purchased from your local thrift store, dollar store, or Walmart/Target. What I love most about this “wreath” is that you can make it your own by choosing the colors/ornaments that best fit your style.

square wreath






2. Wrapping Paper

Wrapping paper is another inexpensive way to spice up your Holiday. It brings life to your door! There are so many different colors and patterns, the options are endless. If you are feeling extra creative, you can use the wrapping paper to create a design like this one!

wrapping paper door






3. 3D Decorations

If you really want something that POPS, 3D decorations are just the thing! Adding dimension and color, 3D decorations will surely put a smile on your neighbors face. What is especially great about 3D decorations is that you can be as creative as you’d you like. They can truly be made from any material. For example here are a couple made from paper! Amazing!

reindeer door

Strategies to Fight Apartment Kitchen Clutter

Clutter is an insidious thing. They say that clutter breeds more clutter, but wouldn’t it be nice if clean bred more clean? Instead,Apartment-Kitchen it only takes a moment of neglect or procrastination for the clutter cycle to begin. Nowhere is it more important to stay ahead of the cycle than in the kitchen, one of the most visited areas in any home.

Here are a few excellent suggestions to help keep your kitchen space pleasant and useful. (more…)

What to Ask When You Find the Apartment You Want

McKenzie ApartmentsYou finally found the perfect apartment. It’s not too far from your work or campus, there’s enough shopping and entertainment nearby, and it’s the right price for your budget. When it’s time for your interview, you’ve got the documents and the attitude that will impress the landlords or property managers. However, be sure you don’t forget one of the most important documents of all: your own list of interview questions for them. The last thing you’ll want to find out after you’ve signed the lease is that the apartment you thought was a rare gem is only someone else’s discarded tin foil, glinting in the sun. We’re here to tell you what needs to be on that list. (more…)

White Noise or Fight Noise? Reducing Sound Creep in Your Apartment

Sound creep isn’t what you call some guy that stomps around in the upstairs apartment, though he certainly could be one cause of it. Sound creep refers to unwelcome noise from outside your apartment that’s made its way inside. It doesn’t matter how much you love big-band music, the Packers, or a good belly laugh: if you didn’t ask for their sounds to be in your apartment, it can be annoying to have to listen to them there. (more…)

10 Tips for Reducing Cooking Smells in Your Apartment

Fish, garlic, spicy vittles—do you avoid home-cooking some of of your favorite foods for fear that their smells will linger too long in your apartment? You’re not alone. Grease and odors can make their way through an apartment faster than you can say deep-fried drumsticks. We say, don’t let worries about odorizing your apartment hold you back from cooking great meals. Good food is important to a good life! apartment-odors (more…)

6 Tips to Prepare Your Apartment for Autumn

AutumnAs the leaves begin to fall and the air takes on a crisp chill, lots of renters change up their apartment décor—switching candles, photo frames, throw pillows, and throw blankets to darker and richer tones in autumnal colors. But changing up your décor isn’t the only thing you’ll want to do for your apartment this time of year! It’s time to make sure your apartment is weather-ready. (more…)

Just One Night Could Save Your Life

Tornado-Prep for Apartment Dwellers


Photo Credit: TJStamp via Flickr

Being tornado-ready is a Midwestern must. For people who live in apartments versus those who live in homes, the task can be a little more challenging. That’s why many apartment-dwellers haven’t tornado-prepped their apartment at all. If you haven’t prepped your apartment, this week is the time to change that. No, it’s not National Disaster Preparedness Week. It’s just that being prepared could save your life—and it won’t take more than an evening to get it done. (more…)