Tributes paid to property entrepreneur Karl Connolly

As many across the property development and music industries will be aware, Karl Connolly died suddenly last weekend aged 53.

Proud Liverpudlian and devout Evertonian Karl was an “infectious” and “energetic” property entrepreneur with a unique ability to create something from nothing, and whose varied career covered the development of new concepts in music venues, flexible offices and approaches to local authority-led regeneration.

Karl – who often self-deprecatingly referred to himself as a “failed town planner” – graduated from Liverpool John Moores University in 1995 having studied environmental planning before launching a very successful career in property development and regeneration across both the private and public sectors, holding senior roles with Arup, Mace, and Gleeds, before a move to Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Highlights and achievements include project managing the development of the Glan Clwyd Hospital for the Welsh NHS Estates, and MediaCityUK on behalf of Peel Holdings, before a seven-year spell with CWAC, where Karl drove forward and energised the regeneration agenda, unlocking the £80million Barons Quay scheme in Northwich, Chester’s Central Business District, Storyhouse Theatre, and Shot Tower residential scheme. He was also central to regeneration efforts in Ellesmere Port and oversaw the council’s rural growth initiatives.

After leaving CWAC, Karl launched his own strategic development management consultancy Caco inc., which saw him advise Cheshire East Council on the regeneration of Crewe Town Centre, deliver an estate rationalisation programme for Stoke-on-Trent City Council, and progress a number of residential development sites in Liverpool and on the Wirral. Karl also successfully pioneered co-working in Liverpool, founding Avenue HQ which opened in June 2017 on Mann Island before such workspace became mainstream.

Latterly Karl established Condate with Andy Grabe and Dave Proudlove, who are progressing high-quality residential and mixed-use schemes across Liverpool, Cheshire and North Staffordshire. Last year, Karl was among the team that established Liverpool Music House Community Interest Company to “protect and help develop the ecosystem that supports all forms of music across the city of Liverpool and beyond”. He also campaigned passionately for Lime Street’s former ABC Cinema to be repurposed as a grassroots music venue and the first Centre of Digital Content.

Many have paid tribute to Karl, expressing genuine affection for one of the North West’s most engaging figures.

Dave Proudlove, Karl’s friend and business partner said: “I’ve known Karl for many years, and I’m devastated we have lost him. He was my business partner and collaborator, but most importantly he was a very, very good friend. I will miss him terribly. Karl was a fireball of energy, an intelligent and creative man. He was one of the good guys.”

Fellow Condate director Andy Grabe said: “It is my great privilege to have known Karl as a friend and business partner. He always conducted himself with honesty, integrity, and always with good humour. I’m going to miss him greatly.”

Nick Moss, director of Nick Moss Architects, said: “I worked and collaborated with Karl on many projects over the last decade. The silver fox had such an infectious energy and ambition to make the North West a better place. He believed in good design and championed its cause. I will truly miss him.”

Chris Capes, director of development for Liverpool Waters at Peel Land and Property said: “I’m devastated by the news of Karl’s death. We met twelve years ago at work and became good friends. Always passionate and thoughtful, he challenged me and my colleagues to think more deeply. He was great fun to be around, ambitious and authentic, and he cared about people. I will always cherish our friendship and send my condolences to Caroline and his family.”

Joe Campbell, director of Culture City – who has described Karl as “a mentor”, and “like a big brother” – said: “Not only was Karl a close friend of mine, he is also the reason Culture City is where it is today. He was the person who inspired and encouraged me, showing me the right path to take in business and in life. Karl linked people together like no one else could. He called things ‘happy accidents’ and built bonds with people in seconds. His musical knowledge, passion and ability will, without doubt, live on in the city of Liverpool and to me, he’ll always be the best ‘plectrician’ in the music business.”

Karl leaves wife Caroline, and children Amelia and Jacob.

  • Karl’s funeral will take place on Monday 8 November at 2.30pm at the Rosemary Chapel of Springwood Crematorium, followed by a gathering at Sefton Park Hotel in Liverpool. Karl’s family respectfully request no flowers at the funeral, instead, donations are requested for mental health charity CALM.

Image credits: Dave Proudlove

Karl Connolly Bw

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A lovely man and one of life’s originals. Great company over a pint; a fine Blue; and a font of wonderful stories. Condolences to his family on such a sad loss.

By Dougal Paver

Just realised I’ve known Karl for half my life, after studying post-grad together in the 90s, then reconnecting over creative, future facing projects over the past 5 years.
Always great company, and always trying to change places and people’s lives for the better with genuine care and selfless generosity.
He’ll never be forgotten. RIP my mate X

By Coral

My condolences to the family. A true blue and endless enthusiasm for good design.

By Brian Reay

The life and soul of a party. I have fond memories of him at a MUFC – Everton game a few years ago with PP O’Connor. RIP Karl. Love to his family & friends x

By Claire Leaman

Karl I liked you they day I met you. I always will . Goodnight Big lad

By Rob Pugh

I’ll never forget the day we conspired to freak out a senior colleague. What a great sense of fun Karl had. Thoughts with Caroline and family.

By Stuart McArthur

I knew Karl when he first worked in Liverpool Planning as a teenager. Didn’t think then he would have gone on to do what he did. Very sad news, condolences to his family and friends.

By Les Mouzer

RIP Karl

By Tony

Karl and I worked together with Mace Manchester for a number of years. We struck up a good rapport and always admired his cultural interests especially musical apart from being an inspired and colourful character to work with in urban regeneration. It’s a great and premature loss. My condolences to his family but I will always think of Karl when I hear “Echo and the Bunnymen” whom he knew well amongst many other bands of that era. Regenerate in Peace Karl.

By Peter Ward

What a true gentleman – will miss you dearly Karl.

By Mike smith

Sad, so sad. My heart goes out to Caroline and the family.
Kind hearted, generous, inciteful and helpfully brutally honest.
He guest speakered for me a number of times at Chester Property Curry Club challenging us all to do better. Even when he left CWaC his passion for better in the city continued and for everything else.
The world will miss him. I wish he could see these tributes.

By Jane Harrad-Roberts

I knew Karl at Mace and was a great friend and colleague. Truly one of the best and will be sadly missed. My heart goes out to his wife and children x

By Ruth Taylor

Rest in peace mate.

By Mick Ord

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