Why Kyle Ciminelli left New York City for Buffalo

Tue, Nov 12th 2019 05:17pm

James Fink
Buffalo Business First

Kyle Ciminelli’s story is a familiar one.

A Buffalo Niagara native and millennial goes off to college and starts a career in another city only to decide to return home.

It’s a story that appears to be repeated more frequently.

Ciminelli, 37, was on the career fast track with the New York office of Newmark Knight Frank, an affiliate of real estate industry behemoth Newmark Group Inc. (NASDAQ: NMRK). There, Ciminelli was a senior managing director, working on a 10-person team whose clients include Pace University, WebMD, Hines Real Estate Group, Hodgson Russ LLP and Goldberg Segella.

But the son of Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. CEO Paul Ciminelli had this internal nagging feeling about returning home,

“It probably began two years ago,” Kyle Ciminelli said.

Last month, Ciminelli returned and was named the family company’s executive vice president, becoming the third generation to assume a leadership role in one of the region’s largest development firms.

Ciminelli will be focusing on building up the firm’s leasing and brokerage arms.

There was no pressure from his father.

The elder Ciminelli encouraged his son, who graduated from Fordham University and later obtained a master’s degree in real estate finances from New York University, to find his own way.

“I didn’t want Kyle to have what I call ‘the Buffalo bias’,” Paul Ciminelli said. “I wanted him to see where the world was going. I call it the ‘five-year plan.’”

“In my case, it was the ‘five-year plan’ times three,” Kyle Ciminelli said of his 15-year New York City professional tenure.

During his college years, Kyle Ciminelli had two internships.

One was at Ciminelli Real Estate, where he started in the property management division during the gritty stuff like emptying waste baskets and watering flowers before shifting to the marketing department.

His second internship was at CBRE/New York where Ciminelli said he learned how to put deals together. It was a real-life, hands-on learning experience.

Staying in New York was Ciminelli’s priority.

“I was in love with the (New York) city,” Ciminelli said. “Buffalo was not on my radar screen.”

That said, Ciminelli kept in touch with the region’s economic development landscape, albeit from afar through conversations with his father and grandfather, the late Frank Ciminelli.

“There wasn’t a day that went by that I didn’t keep an eye on Buffalo in some way,” Ciminelli said.

Still, it was a combination of factors that led to Ciminelli’s decision to move back to Buffalo.

The region’s economic resurgence was one factor.

Ciminelli and his wife wanted to start a family, but they wanted to raise their children in Buffalo, not New York City. Their first child, a son, was born in late October.

And he knew other St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute alumni who had moved away but decided to return to their roots.

“It was time to leave,” Ciminelli said.

Ciminelli will continue to maintain a working relationship with Newmark and some of the clients he fostered including Goldberg Segella.

Returning to Buffalo was not a shock, but the timing was, Ciminelli admitted. His New York career was flourishing.

“They knew all along if I was going anywhere, it was back to Buffalo,” Ciminelli said. “I was the lone Buffalo guy in a team of Tri-staters.”