Luke Crosland stands at the window of his seventh-floor office and looks out across Preston Center. In the foreground, a tangle of luxury SUVs battle for access to a shabby, two-story parking garage that seems to deteriorate before his eyes. The garage is ringed by a jumble of aging retail strips that wouldn't be out of place in a working-class neighborhood in Garland. Further back, past the Marshalls, a clump of mid-rise office towers stand as a testament to a 1980s office boom.
Crosland is a pugnacious commercial real estate developer best known for the iLume apartments on Cedar Springs Road. He's been gazing down on this scene since he bought into Preston Center 27 years ago. There are trendy new restaurants like John Tesar's Spoon and Hopdoddy Burger Bar, and a few office buildings have gone up here and there, but the difference between now and then is cosmetic. The retail buildings are still outdated. The infrastructure is still crumbling. Three decades of decay have only made the situation worse.