More than $17 million in private dollars has been spent to build A Gathering Place for Tulsa park since the George Kaiser Family Foundation donated the project to the River Parks Authority in August 2014, records show.
The figures are for the period beginning Aug. 15, 2014, through Dec. 14, 2015.
General contractors, a landscape architecture firm and playground equipment accounted for about 90 percent of the $17 million in construction costs, according to Tulsa’s Gathering Place LLC records.
Manhattan and Crossland construction companies were paid a total of $10.3 million; New York City-based landscape architecture company Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc. received $4.5 million in payments; and playground equipment maker Richter Spielgeräte GmbH was paid $960,244.
The $400 million park is being built by the George Kaiser Family Foundation with financial assistance from private and corporate donors. The cost includes $50 million for land acquisition; $225 million in construction expenses; $25 million for engineering and architecture services, and a $100 million endowment.
The Kaiser foundation is contributing $200 million to the park, including $50 million for land. Announced donations total $135 million.
No public dollars are being used to build the park. The city of Tulsa is spending approximately $50 million for related infrastructure projects, including the widening and reconfiguration of Riverside Drive.
Phase I of A Gathering Place for Tulsa will stretch from approximately the 2700 block of Riverside Drive to 31st Street on the east side of the street and the 2700 block to 34th Street along the west side of Riverside Drive. It is scheduled to be completed late next year.
In what is believed to be the largest gift to a public park in United States history, surpassing a $100 million gift to the Central Park Conservancy in New York, GKFF on Aug. 14, 2015, donated the park — known legally as Tulsa’s Gathering Place LLC — to River Parks Authority.
Since then, all expenses related to the park have been invoiced to and paid by River Parks Authority/Tulsa’s Gathering Place LLC, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of River Parks. Each payment made is reviewed and signed by either River Parks Authority Executive Director Matt Meyer or Janet Kendall, River Parks’ administrative manager.
Other significant expenditures made thus far to construct the park include:
- $230,158 in consulting fees paid to hydrologist Bill Smith, owner’s representative Stonebridge, and Terracon, a soil engineering firm
- $202,137 to build a temporary construction office on the corner of Riverside Drive and 31st Street
- $115,156 to Frederic Dorwart, Lawyers
- $90,737 to River Parks Authority for miscellaneous reimbursements
- $52,500 to SuperUber LLC for the Park Pod programming
- $30,000 to Mental Health Association Oklahoma for relocation assistance for tenants at Legacy and Sundance apartments
- $700 to Red Dirt Rangers for playing at the park’s groundbreaking ceremony
The billing records also include a few inconsequential but interesting payments, including $196.53 paid to The Ugly Mug Mobile Ceramic Studio and $112.70 paid to Tulsa Symphony Orchestra.
Jeff Stava, who oversees construction of the project for GKFF, said the payments to the ceramic studio and Tulsa Symphony Orchestra were for services they provided at the groundbreaking ceremony.
Stava said the $10.3 million paid to Manhattan and Crossland construction companies covered construction management services.
Manhattan was paid $6,628,902 for construction management services before Crossland took over as the construction manager in August 2015.
At the time, GKFF described the change as “transitioning” to a new contractor after Manhattan had completed the initial phases of pre-construction, utility and dirt work. No other details were provided.
Stava said Wednesday that there are no outstanding payments owed to Manhattan.
With all the big bills associated with the construction of the park, the single largest expense that interests him — for good reasons — is the playground equipment, Stava said.
“It is being provided by Richter Spielgeräte GmbH, the leading contractor in the world, that is located in Germany,” Stava said. “All in, the playground equipment and installation will be about $11.5 million.”
GKFF has made a concerted effort to use qualified Oklahoma-based contractors whenever possible, Stava said.
“All of the stone that will be in the park is from southeast Oklahoma, as well as transportation companies and stone masons,” Stava said. “We are working very hard to award it to qualified Oklahoma bidders.”