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One-on-One with Kurt Browning

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s not what some people would expect from a guy who’s big into sports, but Kurt Browning is unabashed when it comes to confessing his favorite movie.

“You’re not going to believe this,” he says. ” ‘The Sound of Music.’ A classic … and for (a) big-time sports guy like me, it catches people off guard when I tell them it’s my favorite.”

In fact, the chief development officer of Titan Development took time for a tour of the movie’s best-known filming locations while on a visit to Austria with his brother.

“I get made fun of,” he said.

Travel is something Browning did a lot of while growing up, with a father who was in the Air Force.

He was born in Germany and grew up in Colorado Springs but also spent some summers in Turkey and France. He eventually made his way to Albuquerque after meeting his wife, Karen, a fourth-generation New Mexican, while attending Texas Tech.

He’s been here for 30 years, working initially for a consulting company and then moving into land development – first with Alvarado Realty Co., whose properties include Sandia Peak Tramway and two ski areas, Sandia Peak and Ski Santa Fe.

He is now with Titan Development, which he describes as a “fully integrated developer and investment platform in multiple asset classes in many states.”

Among the company’s most recent projects are the Legacy @ Journal Center development, location of Cabela’s, the Nebraska-based outdoor outfitter. The store began its local operations on Sept. 21 to a crowd of thousands.

“Cabela’s was off the charts at the opening,” Browning said. “I drive by there, and I’m amazed, it’s always a full parking lot. It’s been good for everybody.”

You were born at Hahn Air Base in Germany. How long did you live in Germany?

Just a couple of years. Came back to the States when I was little, then went back overseas later in life.

Where did you come back to?

I came back to Texas at first, and then I grew up mostly in Colorado Springs, because my dad taught at the Air Force Academy. Then went back overseas, spent some summers in Turkey and Paris, France, because Dad worked for NATO at the time.

What rank was your father?

Retired U.S. Air Force colonel.

What about your mom, what did she do?

She’s a medical technician, worked in hospitals. She wasn’t always full time.

What about brothers and sisters?

I have one brother that’s younger, who lives in Dallas. He actually went to Sandia High School; they were stationed at Kirtland after I had already left home. He owned a company in Dallas that he sold a few years ago.

Where did you go to high school?

I went to high school in Panama City Beach, Fla. Left Colorado Springs my freshman year (because) my dad got transferred. It was somewhat dramatic, for somebody just starting high school because Colorado and Florida are quite a bit different. Panama City Beach, Fla., a beautiful area, four years of high school. My dad tells the story that I was really upset that we had to move, and we were in Florida maybe two or three weeks and I spent a lot of time at the beach on the Gulf Coast, that I came around very quickly, that this was going to be just fine. And my grades suffered for about a year because of too much fun at the beach.

What were you like as a teenager? Troublemaker?

I was not a troublemaker as a teenager. Probably in my middle school years or before that, I might have been. Living in Colorado Springs, I was probably 10 or 11, I lit a large field on fire next to our home. Enough to where the fire department had to respond. Me and a young friend were playing around with a couple of lighters and fireworks in a large brushy field in our subdivision. My dad helped me get back on track.

Are you mountains or ocean?

I’m probably mountains, just because I grew up in Colorado Springs. I skied for years, raced for a while, so mountains. Probably why I’m back here in the West.

Where did you go to college?

I went to Texas Tech.

What did you do after college?

I actually moved back here to Albuquerque, where Karen’s from. Karen’s a fourth-generation New Mexican.

What about your folks, are they still around?

Yes, they live here.

What about work?

I worked for Molzen Corbin, a consulting firm here, for about five or six years. Then got into land development.

How did you make your way over to Titan?

I spent nine or 10 years with Alvarado Realty and Sandia Properties, the Abruzzo family. Worked for the Abruzzos and Bob Murphy who ran that and who now runs the Economic Forum … I worked for Bob and Louis for almost 10 years. Did Ventana Ranch and did a lot of big developments around New Mexico and El Paso, and they decided to kind of wind things down back in 2009. Around that time frame. Ben Spencer, who I had known for a long time at Titan, was always bugging me about “coming over and joining the Yankees, the top team.” He and I talked for many years. I decided to go over there and join Titan. Great decision.

What year was that?

2009.

What are some of the big projects you’ve worked on?

Cabella’s; U.S. Forest Service, the two towers at the Journal Center; Hewlett Packard; the REDW building down at Journal Center; Santa Monica Place, which is the 50 acres up behind the post office on San Antonio, which includes two multifamily projects, an independent living project, one of our senior developments, single-family lots, so it’s a true mixed-use community. And, of course, multiple multi-family projects around town as well as quite a few in Texas and Florida. I think you know that we have offices in both Texas and Florida. Lots of big industrial projects between San Antonio and Austin that we’ve done that are exciting. And … of course you know about the Highlands, which is kind of our premier five-block, $95 million redevelopment (north of Central Avenue near Presbyterian Hospital) that includes all the different land uses, and we’re really excited about that and so is the community.

So I would imagine that the job requires quite a bit of travel.

Not so much anymore because the offices in Texas and Florida are somewhat self-sustaining now. At the beginning, three or four years ago, I was on the plane quite a bit. Kevin Reed, one of our partners, went over to Texas and opened up that office, and for a while, I’d fly in once every 10 days, and now, the Texas office is pretty self-sufficient. The home office is still here in Albuquerque.

What do you do for fun?

I like to ski, read and as part of my kids growing up, I love to coach. I’m into sports. Played a little soccer in college. My wife’s a big skier.

What kinds of books do you read?

Nonfiction, mostly historical.

What’s your favorite book?

I have to really think about that one. “Blood and Thunder” (by Hampton Sides) for now. Great book.

You guys are empty-nesters now. How are you guys handling that?

I’m handling it pretty well. Karen struggles with it at times. It’s a little different. We’re still adjusting. Still finding our groove.

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