Owner of McKenzie Apartment Company
John was born and raised right here in Madison. He attended Madison Memorial High School and graduated in 1971, then went on to graduate from UW-Madison as a Business major.
John began his real estate career in Houston, Texas with Gerald D Hines Interests (now Hines) in 1979. Initially he worked in property management on the 575,000 sq/ft Central Trust Center in Cincinnati but was soon promoted to the development group where he worked building the 1,000,000 sq/ft Seafirst Fifth Avenue Plaza in Seattle, and then the 1,800,000 sq/ft 101 California building in San Francisco. He left Hines in 1984 to form a partnership McKenzie-Smith in California. The company purchased and renovated historic hotels in Santa Cruz California, Watsonville California, Merced California, Corvallis Oregon, and Longview Washington. The firm also built and sold a retail strip center in Capitola California.
In 1989 John returned to Madison and within a year started construction on the 122 unit Highland Ridge Apartments in Middleton, with his father Richard and brother Tim as partners. He then developed the 84 unit Prairie Hills condominium project, 146 unit Boulder Creek Apartments, 172 unit Waterside Apartments, 196 unit Blackhawk Trails Apartments, and the 475 lot Blackhawk Neighborhood in Madison. Most recently he completed the 96 unit Siena Ridge Apartments in Verona and the 286 unit Legacy Apartments in Madison. John is currently developing the 372 unit Timber Valley Apartments.
John says the best part of his job is “driving around the properties knowing I’ve had a major part in creating homes for people. That may sound corny but I really mean it. Developing is risky and stressful from beginning to end. When the last of the construction is complete and people have moved in I can finally take a step back and admire the project. I take a deep breath and feel very satisfied. And, it’s a unique situation to be able to work with so many different trades. As a developer you work with real estate agents, government, architects, engineers, bankers, lawyers, accountants, building contractors, property managers, land owners, marketing people, and more. All of these people know more about their jobs and are more expert than me. It is fun and always interesting to be in the middle of all of that ability and energy.” When John finally takes a break from working, he loves to go kayaking, boating, skiing, hiking, play tennis, read, and spend time with family and friends.