John Koelmel has found a new job just months after leaving First Niagara Financial Group (FNFG) in Buffalo, N.Y.
Koelmel became the president of a HarborCenter Development, a real estate company, last month. The group is developing a large swath of downtown Buffalo that includes two professional-sized hockey rinks, a 205-room Marriott hotel, office and retail space. The $172 million project is set to open in September 2014.
In addition to developing the project, Koelmel will have lead oversight of the entire facility, when completed, and will be asked to provide broader oversight of the redevelopment of the downtown area, according to the Buffalo News.
The partnership with Koelmel is like a homecoming, except that he never left Buffalo. Koelmel hails from nearby Orchard Park, where the National Football League's Buffalo Bills play. He spent more than two decades at KPMG's Buffalo office before moving to First Niagara, where he served as CEO since 2006. He left in March, after being criticized for his aggressive acquisition strategy.
The HarborCenter project is partly funded by Terry and Kim Pegula, the owners of the Buffalo Sabres professional hockey team. HarborCenter's hockey rinks will be connected to the Sabres' existing home arena, which happens to be called First Niagara Center. A company spokeswoman said First Niagara has no other role in the HarborCenter development, other than owning the naming rights to the Sabres arena.
As for his old job, First Niagara has not filled it yet. On Friday, the $37 billion-asset company said it was still conducting a search for a replacement and it did not provide a timeline for when a hire would be made.