Construction crews move dirt last month at A Gathering Place for Tulsa park. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Construction crews move dirt last month at A Gathering Place for Tulsa park. DYLAN GOFORTH/The Frontier

Nothing sinister was behind the George Kaiser Family Foundation’s decision to change the construction manager for A Gathering Place for Tulsa park, a foundation official said Thursday.

GKFF announced last month that it was replacing Manhattan Construction with Crossland Construction as the construction manager, an unusual move for a $350 million project like the park.

“The first thing you think about (upon hearing the news) is the project is over budget or we are out of control,” said Phil Frohlich. “That is completely not the case.”

Frohlich is on the GKFF board of directors and the River Parks board of directors. The foundation has gifted the park to River Parks Authority.

“I just thought it would be appropriate to come talk about it and to kind of allay fears that there is something more sinister going on,” Frohlich said. “It’s really just we were at a stopping point and it just seemed … kinda’ sometime the people side of the business and whatnot — it just seemed a better fit.”

Frohlich said the dirt work on the park had been done and the project was at the guaranteed maximum price stage when the decision to change the general contractor was made. A general contractor typically provides its customer with a guaranteed maximum price the customer will have to pay to complete the project.

“Just the personalities and some changes in personnel, it just didn’t seem to be working,” Frohlich said. “It was a good stopping point.”

Manhattan has been very cooperative throughout the transition, Frohlich said, and the foundation is pleased with Crossland’s performance.

“I think we are very, very happy with Crossland stepping in, honoring the original bid,” Frohlich said.

Frohlich said he did not expect the change in contractors to affect the construction schedule.

Phase 1 of the park is expected to be completed in late 2017.

He also assured the River Parks Authority board that the authority would not be liable should any legal action be taken related to the change in construction managers.

“It’s all good,” Frohlich said.

Frohlich’s remarks were the first public statements made by anyone associated with the George Kaiser Family Foundation other than a press release issued the day the change in contractors was announced.

That press release described the change as a transition.

“As Tulsa’s Gathering Place successfully completes the initial phases of pre-construction, utility and dirt work, Tulsa’s Gathering Place, LLC is transitioning the construction management of future phases of the project to Crossland Construction Company, Inc.,” the statement said.

Manhattan Construction President John Reyhan was less circumspect, telling the Tulsa World that the construction company and GKFF are “parting ways” because “we disagreed regarding the time and cost it would take to successfully execute the project.”

Phase I of the project 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.

The Kaiser Foundation is contributing $200 million to the park, including $50 million for land.