So Huntsville West, the shopping center at University and Sparkman, is getting some new tenants that I've never heard of. It wasn't long ago that the center had stores like Office Depot and Goody's. Despite several attempts to revitalize the center-- the Times has a good history of the center in the article linked above-- stores just can't seem to stick around there (with the exception of the thrift store and Hibbett's). Sometimes it was because the company went out of business (anyone remember Compo?), but most of the time the stores moved to new shopping centers-- Office Depot moved farther west next to Best Buy, and Goody's moved next to SuperTarget, where it remained until the company's demise earlier this year. These newer centers make it hard for Huntsville West to compete in its current form. So, if true revitalization is to be done, some radical and unique measures (at least for Huntsville) will have to be taken.
Time to meet the bulldozer...
If Huntsville West really wants to compete with the newer centers along University, it's going to have to be something new. It has the advantages of being at a relatively major intersection and in between two universities, but it has the disadvantages of being a waste of land (look at all that asphalt!) and being too old to attract better tenants. So bulldoze the center, and in its place, put in a "college town center" type development, or a Constellation for inner West Huntsville. Coming off University on the "Main Street," put in tenants that fit into the needs/wants of the demographics of the area-- a legit grocery store, college bookstore, some bars and restaurants (sit-down/quick service/fast-food), and a live music venue or two would be a good start. Elsewhere, build some 4-5 story loft-style apartment buildings. If parking's a problem, put in a parking garage. The city will probably need to improve pedestrian/bike access along Sparkman between the center and the universities-- this should be done anyway regardless.
Like I said, radical and unique. But there's not too much you can do with a 35-year-old shopping center that's within a mile of newer, more visible centers with vacant space. And bringing in retail that no one's ever heard of won't keep it alive for long.