Honoring Dan Batchelor’s lifetime effect on OKC
Economic development is a team process, and you only have to take a look around our city to realize we have a talented, dedicated team of professionals working to transform Oklahoma City. No one has had a more instrumental, behind-the-scenes impact on how Oklahoma City has been shaped over the last 50 years than Dan Batchelor.
As general counsel of the Oklahoma City Urban Renewal Authority since it was founded in 1966, Dan has provided legal guidance for public investment in the development and expansion of Oklahoma City’s most significant projects over the past half-century. He was instrumental in planning and development of nearly every major building in downtown Oklahoma City including BancFirst Tower, Leadership Square, Oklahoma Tower, Corporate Tower and Devon Energy Center.
Dan was also deeply involved in developing the Oklahoma Health Center, a 325-acre campus with 30-plus institutions that provide health services, research and resources that affect patients far beyond Oklahoma City. Dan’s creativity and legal expertise on public-private strategies have helped reposition the area for even greater growth as the Oklahoma City Innovation District, building on the demonstrated success in incubating startup businesses, spurs more inclusive and sustainable economic development that expands opportunities to residents of the adjacent neighborhoods who have not always felt the benefits of nearby investment.
Dan was a primary architect of the 1992 Oklahoma’s Local Development Act, which allows cities, towns, and counties to use tax increment financing to generate development that would be difficult or impossible without it. Dan established the very first TIF district in the state of Oklahoma (in Guymon) and the first TIF districts in Oklahoma City, then defended them against challenges in court.
When HUD discontinued funding urban renewal authorities around the country, Dan went to Washington, D.C., and negotiated for Oklahoma City to keep and recycle funds from the sale of OCURA properties indefinitely.
In his role with OCURA, Dan Batchelor has helped Oklahoma City develop an efficient economic development engine that concentrates incentives, resources and support into a one-stop shop and positions Oklahoma City as a model for being developer-friendly and highly effective at public-private partnerships.
As he retires as general counsel, we applaud his life’s work and know that his impact and shaping of Oklahoma City’s destiny will be remembered by many and enjoyed by all who call our city home.