And you thought phase one construction of Gathering Place was complete. Not so fast, Tulsa.
Crews began demolishing the park’s construction office near the northeast corner of 31st Street and Riverside Drive on Monday. It should all be down by the end of the week, to be replaced with nothing but good soil and an irrigation system to feed the Bermuda grass that will cover it.
Jeff Stava, executive director and trustee of Tulsa’s Gathering Place LLC, said the space will eventually be turned into a distinct entryway into the Four Seasons Walkway, the canyon of marvelous stone that leads into the heart of the park. The entryway will also provide a connection to the planned Tulsa Children’s Museum Discovery Lab on the south side of 31st Street.
Gathering Place officials are still working on the entryway design, but they could not wait to tear the building down.
“We are demolishing the building this week to adhere to the agreement we had with the neighbors and the (city) Board of Adjustment permit that required that the building be removed from the property by the end of September 2019,” Stava said.
It was five years ago, in September 2014, that Stava and City Engineer Paul Zachary met with neighborhood residents at All Souls Unitarian Church to discuss the inevitable disruptions to their lives construction of the park would cause.
“I kind of wish I could just snap my fingers, close my eyes and make it happen in a day,” Stava said at the time. “But the brutal fact of the matter is it isn’t going to happen in a day. It is going to take three years, and it is going to be dusty. It’s going to be dirty.”
In response to neighborhood concerns, the 19-foot-high, 7,200-square-foot metal building was designed with its back to Boston Place to act as a buffer between the residential street and the construction staging area.
Design features were added to improve its look, including affixing stone veneer to the base of the north and east sides of the building, along with shake wood panel siding. Decorative shutters were added to the building’s windows.
Phase two of Gathering Place will center on the children’s museum. Officials initially announced it would be completed by March or April 2020, but the timeline has been extended.
Gathering Place officials have not yet decided what phase three of the park, to be constructed south of the children’s museum, will include.